Wales will look to replicate the defensive performance that they believe kept Dan Carter quiet when they face Australia flyhalf Matt Giteau on Saturday.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has identified Giteau as the Wallabies’ key player and is determined to nullify his influence.
“We felt that Carter was relatively quiet against us,and was probably not as dominant a figure on the field as he has been in other games,” Gatland said, reflecting on their defeat to the All Blacks in Cardiff last week.
“We did a lot of work in trying to shut down his kicking and running game, and Matt Giteau is very similar. When Carter is on top of his game and dominating, the All Blacks get a flow, and it’s the same with Australia.
“They are reliant on Giteau’s kicking game and also his running game. So we have to make sure we shut down his space. One thing he does very well is that he gets pretty good distance between No.9 and No.10, which does stress opposition defences a lot.
“And for a player who is not big, he is deceptively strong in the tackle area. He runs nice lines. He knows when to take a gap as well.”
Gatland acknowledged that while the Australians may not pose the same physical threat as the New Zealanders, their intelligence and guile made them formidable opposition.
“The great thing about Australia is that they always bring a certain amount of confidence,” he said.
“They are the greatest over-achievers of any nation in the world, and I mean that as a compliment. They are also pretty critical of each other, and that also brings out the best. They are winners. As a nation, they are very analytical, and able to get the best out of whatever resources they’ve got.”