Wales coach Gareth Jenkins claimed that the Wallabies’ pack will be the primary target in Saturday’s clash at the Millenium Stadium.
“I think it’s well-documented that if there is an Achilles’ heel, in the last Tri Nations, it was the scrum,” he said. “I watched a lot of Aussie games [this season] and it was a factor. There was no doubt at all.”
The coach doesn’t believe the Wallabies have progressed at all since they were beaten 22-24 in Cardiff last year. These sentiments are shared by his namesake, prop Gethin Jenkins.
“Last year, obviously a lot was made of it [Australia's poor scrum] after England took them apart and we came here and we had a pushover try,” the burly front ranker said said. “If you’ve been somewhere and you’ve had a hiding in a scrum, you’re going to be thinking about that next time you go there.
“So we’ll see what they’re thinking. After last year, we can take some benefits from our performance in the scrum.”
Saturday’s Welsh side sees 11 players who were in the successful Grand Slam team. Only locks Ian Evans and Ian Gough, hooker Matthew Rees and blindside flanker Jonathan Thomas weren’t a part of that campaign.
Gavin Henson and Tom Shanklin are reunited in the centres while British Lions No 8 Ryan Jones returns to the back row. The coach remarked on Henson’s return to inside centre.
“The position of number 12 in Wales is not one of our strongest positions. We have got two exciting young men in Gavin Henson and James Hook. We are well aware of their potential.
“At this moment in time we feel as if Gavin has been playing some good rugby and we feel confident and comfortable to give him the opportunity to prove to all of us he can make an impact in that position for us this season.
“He wants the opportunity. There is now serious competition behind him and that is good for all of us. Time on the park is more important than position. I am comfortable picking a 12 who has played a lot of rugby at 10.”
Australia coach John Connolly will announce his side on Thursday after the Wallabies’ tour-opening match against the Ospreys on Wednesday night.
Wales team: 15 Kevin Morgan, 14 Gareth Thomas, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Ryan Jones, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Jon Thomas, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Gethin Jenkins, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Adam Jones. Reserves: 16 Rhys Thomas, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Chris Horsman, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Mike Phillips, 21 James Hook, 22 Mark Jones.