The Wallabies head to the Millennium stadium in Wales brimming with confidence after their dramatic triumph over the All Blacks in Hong Kong last weekend, while the hosts are looking to experiment with their line-up.
Ending the lengthy losing streak against New Zealand was the perfect start to the tour for coach Robbie Deans’ Australian side, and with that monkey finally off their backs his young team will now take aim at their European rivals. The Wallabies are also enjoying some rare continuity in selection, with Deans keeping faith in the same side that were able to topple the number one team in the world a week ago.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has begun to build towards next year’s World Cup by experimenting with a youthful side and has surprisingly relegated veteran flank Martyn Williams to the bench. Gatland hasn’t let the surprises stop there, with flyhalf-cum-centre James Hook about to add yet another positional switch to his CV, as the Ospreys’ star make the move to fullback.
Hook joins wing wizard Shane Williams and talented youngster Will Harries to form a formidable back three that will need to be at their very best against a firing Wallaby backline.
Australia’s struggles at scrum time will not have gone unnoticed by the Welsh and the Wallaby tight five can expect a massive battle against a strong Wales pack.
The British and Irish Lions front row of Gethin Jenkins, new skipper Matthew Rees and Adam Jones are a very tough unit by anybody’s standards and will test the Australians who will need a vastly improved performance up front to avoid being on the back foot.
With a passionate Welsh crowd in full song Australia can’t afford anything less that the same level of commitment at the breakdown and willingness to attack the gain line that they displayed against the All Blacks.
Wales: 15 James Hook, 14 Will Harries, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Andrew Bishop, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees (captain), 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Paul James, 18 Deiniol Jones, 19 Martyn Williams, 20 Richie Rees, 21 Dan Biggar, 22 Chris Czekaj.
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O’Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (captain), 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 James Slipper, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Lachie Turner.
Date: Saturday, November 6
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT)
Expected weather: There is still uncertainty whether the roof will be open or closed. If it is open the elements will have an affect. A cold day with a maximum of 12°C and a minimum of 6°C, with light north-westerly winds and scattered showers.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Peter Allan (Scotland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)