Warren Gatland hopes Wales bench can inspire rare win over Australia
Wales will hope a powerful bench can play its part in their quest for a rare win against Australia on Saturday.
Head coach Warren Gatland has almost 180 caps of experience among his replacements for the Principality Stadium encounter.
The group includes British and Irish Lions backs Dan Biggar and Liam Williams, plus two forwards – Cory Hill and Ellis Jenkins – who captained Wales on tour against South Africa and Argentina this summer.
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“It is definitely one of the strongest benches we have had for a long time, for the impact that can come off there,” said Gatland.
“If you look at the three players in the backs – Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar and Liam Williams – there is some experience there, a couple of Lions there.
“There was definitely talk about the impact and importance of the bench in this game.”
Wales’ run of 13 successive defeats against Australia has included six losses by five points or less, while the Wallabies replacements have often had a big say in the final outcome.
The latest meeting is a final game between the countries before they clash in the World Cup next September.
Gatland added: “We have got to be the best we can in terms of getting that performance and result, and that will psychologically be important in terms of next year.
“Everyone is aware that you win that [World Cup] group and you go potentially into a more favourable side of the draw.
“Winning on Saturday will hopefully give us a springboard to go into the Tonga and South Africa matches and then into the Six Nations.
“It is about building self-belief and confidence, but still keeping the balance between what we are trying to achieve from a rugby perspective, but also the hard work we put in.”
The last time Wales beat Australia – in 2008 – was Gatland’s first year in charge.
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Asked about the subsequent run of losses, he said: “It’s being clinical in those last few minutes.
“We’ve gone through some of those examples in the last few years when we haven’t read a certain pressure situation, where players have occasionally given away stupid penalties, or where we haven’t defended smartly. We’ve gone through a number of those scenarios.
“The good thing about last week [against Scotland] was that we were under a lot of pressure at times and we showed composure when we needed to, so hopefully that transfers to this weekend.”
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