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Dewi Lake says Wales spurred on by chance to end miserable record in Australia

05 Jul 2024 3 minute read
Dewi Lake. Photo David Davies PA images

Dewi Lake insists that records are “meant to be broken” as Wales target a first victory against Australia Down Under for 55 years.

Wales captain Lake leads his team in Sydney on Saturday, striving to avoid an eighth successive defeat.

Wales last won a Test match during the 2023 World Cup pool stage, when they defeated Georgia, and the Wallabies have reeled off 11 successive triumphs against them in Australia since losing 19-16 in 1969.

Lake knows what it takes to defy the odds, having featured when Wales beat South Africa in Bloemfontein two years ago.

And the last time Wales met Australia – a World Cup clash in Lyon – they prevailed 40-6 as the Wallabies lurched towards an early exit.

Wooden spoon

Since then, though, Wales have suffered a run of losses that includes a Six Nations wooden spoon, while Australia are now under the coaching direction of former Ireland boss Joe Schmidt, who succeeded Eddie Jones.

“Records like that (Wales’ defeats in Australia) are meant to be broken,” Lake said.

“It gives us a great opportunity, a great marker something this group can change or leave behind.

“It is another driver for us, adding onto our seven losses in a row. It is another thing that can get the boys in the right mindset.

“Test rugby is about winning. Winning is our goal every time we take the field, and that is the main objective on Saturday.

“A Welsh touring side hasn’t won here since 1969, and we know it is not going to be easy, but we are excited to take the field and are confident in our ability.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland fields just three of the starters – Liam Williams, Gareth Thomas and Aaron Wainwright – that completed a demolition job on Australia last autumn.

There is a first cap for 20-year-old Gloucester back Josh Hathaway, who lines up on the wing, with Ben Thomas handed fly-half duties.

Thomas last played for Wales in 2021 and is normally a centre with Cardiff, but he now becomes Gatland’s sixth different starting number 10 since the New Zealander began his second stint as head coach ahead of the 2023 Six Nations.

Testing position

Sydney-born Bath prop Archie Griffin starts at tighthead prop, with Gatland accepting it has become a testing position in terms of depth.

“Tighthead is one position that we are probably the most exposed at,” he said.

“We just haven’t had a consistent tighthead who is playing week in, week out. The last one was probably Tomas Francis, who is in France.

“He (Francis) hasn’t retired from international rugby, but we need to get someone on the field and develop some experience.

“Archie is explosive, and technically he is excellent. Unfortunately in the Six Nations he picked up an injury right at the start, so it is good to see him back.”

Number eight Wainwright, meanwhile, becomes the latest member of Wales’ 50-cap club, and Gatland added: “I just like the way he has grown as a player.

“After the game last week against the Springboks, (South Africa scrum-half) Faf de Klerk said ‘your number eight is a handful’.

“We have seen him grow with his footwork and carrying, and I have challenged him because I think there is another level in him.”

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