Paul Mulvey June 14, 2012
Wales have injected nearly 200 caps worth of experience into their pack in an unabashed bid to control Australia's forwards in the second Test in Melbourne and choke delivery to halfback Will Genia.
Amid four changes to the starting side which lost the first Test, the Six Nations champions have brought in hooker Matthew Rees, second-rower Alun Wyn Jones and No.8 Ryan Jones, who have a combined 181 Tests.
Caretaker coach Rob Howley said the trio made a massive impact off the bench to help Wales handle the pace and intensity of the first Test in Brisbane last week and the tourists need their experience from the start on Saturday night.
While Howley said subtle changes will be made to Wales' game at Etihad Stadium, he didn't bother with subtlety when asked how much focus will be placed on stopping Wallabies No.9 Genia.
"A lot," was his simple response.
Genia made the most of the clean ball delivered by the dominant Australian pack in Brisbane as he was the standout player of the match.
But, anticipating five-eighth Berrick Barnes stepping in to take the heat off Genia, Howley said his forwards had a job to stifle supply to the Australian backs and defend the channel.
"Will Genia's a world class nine and the way he had time on the ball (in the first Test), we were slightly disappointed," said Howley, whose fourth change was to bring Ashley Beck into the centres at the expense of Scott Williams.
"We have to negate that threat, but also be aware of them changing and maybe playing off 10 a little bit more.
"It's an area we need to front up and ... make sure we're looking after that channel."
Wallaby second-rower Nathan Sharpe says the Australians are prepared for a Welsh go-slow.
"I think they'll definitely focus on trying to slow our ball down," he said.
"It will be their goal to disrupt us at the set piece, so we need to make sure our break-down's good because this week will be a much tougher challenge."
The inclusion of openside flanker Justin Tipuric on the bench also raises the possibility of him joining captain Sam Warburton in a combined bid to nullify Australian skipper David Pocock, as Scotland successfully did last Tuesday.
In the first Test, Pocock dominated the breakdown which Howley has identified as an area the Welsh need to improve.
"David Pocock is a special player and it's important we get to grips with the contact area and get more streetwise there," Howley said.
With their first Test in three months under their belt, Howley has stressed to his players the need to play a full 80 minutes, rather than take a half to warm into the match as they did last week.
Coach Warren Gatland joined the Welsh camp late on Wednesday night after being confined to home in New Zealand with two broken ankles.
Howley will remain as coach of the side, with Gatland in support, but it's yet to be decided what role the New Zealander will have on match day.