Wales see Wallabies quality
Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins believes they will face the current “second-best side” in world rugby when they tackle Australia down under.
It is 43 years since Wales beat the Wallabies on Australian soil, but that is the challenge awaiting them in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney between June 9 and 23.
Although Australia will be without dynamic backs Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor through injury, while fly-half playmaker Quade Cooper has only recently started his comeback from surgery, Jenkins still expects a fearsome challenge.
“They are a tough side,” Jenkins said.
“The reality is that we are playing the second-best side in the world, as far as I am concerned.
“I don’t think they are too far off the All Blacks at this moment in time. They play some fantastic rugby and have a lot of good players.
“Someone like Berrick Barnes can slot in at 10, no problem. For me, he is one of their best players. He is outstanding.
“Adam Ashley-Cooper can play at 15, so there are lots of players who can slot in. No matter what Aussie side takes the pitch against us, it will be a pretty good one.
“I thought Berrick Barnes was outstanding against us when he went to 10 in the World Cup third/fourth play-off game. I find him a very influential player for them – he reads the game incredibly well.
“He is a very good kicker and distributor, and he understands the game very well. I would be surprised if he doesn’t play.”
A 38-man Wales squad are preparing for the Tests against Australia, plus next Saturday’s Millennium Stadium appointent with the Barbarians, when flanker Martyn Williams is expected to win his 100th cap.
Caretaker coach Rob Howley, boss for the tour while Warren Gatland continues recuperating from two broken heels at home in New Zealand, will confirm the group of players heading to Australia on Thursday with defence coach Shaun Edwards for pre-first Test training in Brisbane.© AAP 2013
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