Write the Wallabies off at your peril.
That’s the warning Wales coach Warren Gatland issued two days out from his side’s Test against Australia in Cardiff.
The world no. 3 Welsh are narrow favourites with local bookmakers after six Test wins in a row.
Australia comes into the game with a 3-7 record from 10 matches this season but a decade-long history of success against Wales, having won their past 13 encounters dating back to 2009.
Asked whether he felt the two sides were moving in opposite directions, Gatland was quick to pour water on the notion.
“The one thing about Australian teams is that you write them off at your peril,” he said.
“They’re competitors in whatever sport.
“They realise the pressure that is being put on them in terms of coming up to the northern hemisphere and having successful autumn campaign.
“That is pretty evident that is the message that is being delivered to them.”
Gatland said the side the Wallabies are rolling out showed they are aware of where Wales sits in the rugby pecking order too.
“It’s a pretty strong team. I think they’ve picked their strongest team,” he said.
“They’ve made a few changes, but I think it’s a sign of respect and one that this Welsh team have earned over the years.
“Teams used to be comfortable putting out second string sides against Wales, they don’t do that anymore, they come fully loaded and Australia are fully loaded for Saturday.”
Favouritism against the Wallabies isn’t unprecedented for Wales but Gatland said the challenge was proving they were befitting of that tag against their 2019 Rugby World Cup pool opponents.
“This game is important for the next 12 months. It is not the most important, the pool game at the World Cup is going to be the most important one,” he said.
“This will definitely be important from a confidence point of view and yes it’s been well-documented that they’re under different sorts of pressures than we are, but the pressure for us is being favourites and being able to handle it.”
“There’s a lot of expectation within the squad and you can tell with the players, having had the game last week, we pushed the players hard in the first couple of weeks, it seems to be a real mood in the squad and a certain amount of confidence.
“Plus, there is a lot of expectation.
“The fact we have that first game under our belt, we have a win, we have some confidence, hopefully we’ll be a lot better from that performance last week to take on Australia.”
Wales haven’t beaten Australia in their past 13 outings but 11 of those defeats have been by single figures, and many were decided in the final moments, a statistic that gives Gatland optimism.
With experienced backs Dan Biggar and Liam Williams on the bench, it’s also a statistic Gatland is hoping to change.
“We’re disappointed with the run of losses we’ve had against them,” he said.
“But if you look at how close a lot of those games have been, I think there’s been something like seven points the difference between us and them on average over that period, less than a score in it on most occasions,” he said.
“They have all gone right down to the wire. Unfortunately, in some of those we have conceded points in the final minutes having been ahead.”
The Wallabies take on Wales on Saturday November 10, kicking off at 5:20pm local, Sunday 4:20am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sport Foxtel channel 513 and SBS.