Wales 'very confident' in fledgling back row

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde has complete confidence in his fledgling backrow as they aim to break a 12-game losing streak against Australia 

With injuries to Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton and Ellis Jenkins, no. 8 Taulupe Faletau will lead the backrow, combining with newbies Josh Navidi and Aaron Shingler.

McBryde said he had complete faith in the new makeup to match up against an intimidating Australian backrow on Saturday.

“Very confident,” he said.

“They showed in the summer really...they both deserve an opportunity off the back of what were some some strong performances last season and this season ,” he said.

“It’ll be interesting to see How they work with Taulupe in the back row.”

Sevens convert Sam Cross will come off the bench in that area, McBryde keen to see his skills transfer to the XV-man game, something Australia has seen with no. 8 Sean McMahon.

Cross, who won a silver medal with Team GB at the Rio Olympics,  only made his  club debut in October, for Ospreys, impressing after a shock call-up and getting in the face of England star Owen Farrell in a Champions Cup game.

“Sam Cross been under pressure in the the first two weeks and those skills we see under the microscope in the sevens field - taking kicks in the air, breakdown (work), reading body shapes in attack and defence - those are the things that will cross over to the 15-man game, hopefully we’ll see that tomorrow.”

Wales has not beaten Australia since 2008 and hasn’t won its first Autumn International since 2002, but McBryde said more was being asked of the side’s leaders when it came to bringing the right mindset.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve done anything specifically different, the feel of the squad has been different, because of the number of new faces in there, because a number of factors reallt but just been a diff feel,” he said.

“Some senior players, we’re asking a little bit of a different role with them in regards to  imparting some of their knowledge on the back of a successful summer with the British and Irish Lions and with Wales.

“Players learn when they work with different coaches and against different opposition as well.

“We need to use all that knowledge and lessons from the summer and hope to take advantage of them tomorrow.”

McBryde confirmed the roof would be closed for Saturday’s clash, with both sides looking for a fast pitch.

Last year, Wales kept the roof open for their afternoon encounter at the end of a wet week, in a bit to dampen the track for Australia.

This time around, with a new smaller, more dynamic lineup, Wales will be after the same speed on the ground as Australia.

Australia takes on Wales on Saturday November 11, kicking off at 5:15pm local, Sunday 4:15am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sports and SBS.