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Wales Team To Face Australia

25th November 2008

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made two changes in personnel to the team who faced New Zealand last weekend for the final clash of the 2008 Invesco Perpetual Series, against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).

Scarlets wing Mark Jones returns in place of Blues flier Leigh Halfpenny, who misses out on a place in the 22 altogether, and Ian Gough comes straight into the starting line-up for his injured Ospreys team-mate Ian Evans. Another Osprey, Alun-Wyn Jones, switches sides of the scrum in the second row to accommodate Gough.

There is also one change on the bench with Scarlets scrum half Martin Roberts coming in for Dwayne Peel, who has been made unavailable by his club Sale Sharks.

"In Mark Jones we have a player who has been in form himself but was kept out, after being injured for our opening fixture, by Leigh's impressive showing." said Gatland.

"But Mark now has an opportunity to re-stake his claim and we are sure he will rise to that particular challenge.

"Leigh has represented himself well in his first three caps for his country - and made a real impact on the international scene - but he is a young man and, after three huge games in succession, we have decided to look after him and have him sit this one out.

"Ian Gough brings a wealth of experience to the second row and, although Luke Charteris can be pleased with his performance when he came on against the All Blacks last week, we have prefered him as an option on the bench who can come on and make an impact.

"For the rest of the squad we were pleased with the performance last week and so have kept faith, although we are now very much looking for a result to go with that performance."

The clash with the Wallabies represents the final opportunity for Gatland's Wales to beat Southern Hemisphere opposition - a stated aim at the start of the autumn campaign - before they open the defence of their 6 Nations title against Scotland on Sunday 8th February.

The game now also carries the extra 'carrot' of a further potential move up the IRB world rankings, after it was announced this morning that Wales have risen to 6th.

Gatland has a long term aim for this Wales team to reach the top four during his reign at the helm and the fact he is within touching distance already - albeit with a 15 point win over the Wallabies necessary as well as other results to go his way - will be pleasing to Wales' adopted Kiwi.

"We want to play the best teams regularly in order to improve ourselves and raise our own standards, we want to achieve consistency and any rise up the World rankings would certainly be a reflection that we may be going in the right direction," added Gatland.

"But the most important thing for everyone is to get a result if we can. That is an incredibly tough prospect, but on the other side of the coin there is no doubting that we have an opportunity here against the Wallabies.

"The statistics say they are a better team than us and they will rightly carry the favourites tag, but we have the opportunity on Saturday to achieve something special out of this Autumn campaign and it is a chance we do not want to miss."

WALES: Lee Byrne; Mark Jones, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Gareth Cooper; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones (capt), Martyn Williams, Andy Powell

REPLACEMENTS: Richard Hibbard, John Yapp, Luke Charteris, Dafydd Jones, Martin Roberts, James Hook, Andrew Bishop


Full record against Australia
P W D L    F     A   Tries
27 9 1 17 378 627 40-83

* Only two players - captain and back row forward Ryan Jones and centre Tom Shanklin - have started all four autumn Tests. Centre Jamie Roberts and No 8 Andy Powell have taken a part in the four matches after coming on as replacements against Canada for Shanklin and Jones respectively.

* The match will be Wales' 11th and final match of 2008. So far they have netted a Grand Slam and Triple Crown and six wins from 10 starts.

* The clash with Australia will come two days before the draw in London to determine the four Pools of five teams each for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Wales are in sixth place after moving above France last weekend. Wales were in 10th spot at the start of 2008 and have climbed four places under Head Coach Warren Gatland and his coaching team and are currently in the second tier for Monday's draw.

* Saturday's match comes just 13 days short of the 100th anniversary of the first meeting between the nations, Wales winning 9-6 when they beat Australia at Cardiff Arms Park on 12 December, 1908.

* Shane Williams - crowned IRB World Player of the Year in London on Sunday night - needs one more try to join Gerald Davies as Wales' leading try scorer against the Wallabies. Davies has scored four of Wales' 40 tries against Australia with Shane and JJ Williams on three apiece.

* There are 10 survivors from the starting line-up for the last meeting between the nations, the RWC 2007 Pool match at the Millennium Stadium 14 months ago. The 10 - which includes Saturday's front five - are Mark Jones, Tom Shanklin, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Alun-Wyn Jones and Martyn Williams.


26 November, 2005 WALES 24 AUSTRALIA 22 (2-3) Millennium Stadium
First victory over Australia since 1987 RWC and first in Cardiff since 1981. Welsh pack dominance resulted in rare penalty try. Australia led 14-6 early in second half.

4 November, 2006 WALES 29 AUSTRALIA 29 (2-4) Millennium Stadium
Wales came from behind to steal a draw after trailing for almost an hour. A James Hook penalty nine minutes from time levelled the scores to give him 13 points in the game. It was the first draw between the countries in 24 outings. The Wales XV included 11 members of the Grand Slam winning side.

26 May, 2007 AUSTRALIA 29 WALES 23 (3-2) Telstra Stadium, Sydney
Gareth Thomas crossed for his 38th international try in the first minute and Wales led at one stage 17-0. The Wallabies fought back but a James Hook drop goal gave them a 23-22 lead going into the final minute. They were unable to hold out and replacement Stephen Hoiles touched down for a try converted by Stirling Mortlock in the last play.

2 June, 2007 AUSTRALIA 31 WALES 0 (3-0) Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Chris Czekaj suffered a broken leg in the 21st minute and this seemed to affect the Wales performance as they slipped to their heaviest defeat to Australia in more than a decade. The Wallabies only led 6-0 at the interval but they brought on their experienced players for the second half to power to victory. Scott Morgan made his debut after replacing Robert Sidoli in the 61st minute.

RWC 15 Sept, 2007 WALES 20 AUSTRALIA 32 (2-4) Millennium Stadium
Wales outscored the Wallabies in the second period but a first half horror show gifted the advantage to Australia. Shane Williams crossed for his third touchdown in the tournament.


15 Lee BYRNE (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,041)
DoB: 01.06.80. 6'3" / 1.91m. 15st 9lbs / 99kgs
International record: 21 caps (W 8, L 12, D 1; 25 pts - 5T)

14 Mark JONES (SCARLETS - Cap No 984)
DoB: 07.11.79. 6'2" / 1.88m. 15st 0lbs / 95kgs
International record: 42 caps (W 18, L 22, D 2; 60 pts - 12T)

DoB: 24.11.79. 6'2" / 1.88m. 15st 9lbs / 99kgs
International record: 57 caps (W 26, L 30, D 1; 90 pts - 18T)

12 Jamie ROBERTS (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 1,057)
DoB: 08.11.86. 6'4" / 1.93m. 16st 10lbs / 107kgs
International record: 6 caps (W 2, L 4; 5 pts - 1T)

11 Shane WILLIAMS (OSPREYS - Cap No 976)
DoB: 26.02.77. 5'7" / 1.71m. 12st 13lbs / 82kgs
International record: 60 caps (W 29, L 29, D 2; 215 pts - 43T)

10 Stephen JONES (SCARLETS - Cap No 966)
DoB: 08.12.77. 6'1" / 1.86m. 14st 12lbs / 94kgs
International record: 74 caps (W32, L40, D2; 638 pts - 6T,115C,123PG,3DG)

DoB: 07.05.79. 5'7" / 1.71m. 13st 6lbs / 85kgs
International record: 39 caps (W 17, L 22; 40 pts - 8T)

1 Gethin JENKINS (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 1,006)
DoB: 17.11.80. 6'2" / 1.88m. 18st 13lbs / 120kgs
International record: 62 caps (W 25, L 35, D 2; 15 pts - 3T)

2 Matthew REES (SCARLETS - Cap No 1,033)
DoB: 09.12.80. 6'0" / 1.83m. 17st 1lbs / 108kgs
International record: 24 caps (W 10, L 13, D 1; 10 pts - 2T)

3 Adam JONES (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,018)
DoB: 08.03.81. 6'0" / 1.83m. 19st 10lb / 125kgs
International record: 51 caps (W 26, L 23, D 2; 5 pts - 1T)

4 Ian GOUGH (OSPREYS - Cap No 964)
DoB: 10.11.76. 6' 6" / 1.98m. 18st 9lbs / 118kgs
International record: 54 caps (W 24, L 27, D 3; 5 pts - 1T)

5 Alun-Wyn JONES (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,046)
DoB: 19.09.85. 6'5" / 1.96m. 19st 1lbs / 121kgs
International record: 25 caps (W 9, L 16; 15 pts - 3T)

6 Ryan JONES (OSPREYS, CAPTAIN - Cap No 1,029)
DoB: 13.03.81. 6'5" / 1.96m. 18st 0lbs / 114kgs
International record: 26 caps (W 14, L 11, D 1; 5 pts - 1T)

7 Martyn WILLIAMS (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 944)
DoB: 01.09.75. 6'0" / 1.83m. 15st 11lbs / 100kgs
International record: 83 caps (W 38, L 42, D 3; 73 pts - 14T, 1DG)

8 Andy POWELL (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 1,061)
DoB: 23.08.81. 6'4" / 1.94m. 17st 6lbs / 111kgs
International record: 3 caps (W 1, L 2)


16 Richard HIBBARD (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,048)
DoB: 13.12.83. 6'0" / 1.83m. 17st 7lbs / 111kgs
International record: 7 caps (W 1, L 6)

17 John YAPP (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 1,031)
DoB: 09.04.83. 6'2" / 1.88m. 18st 8lbs / 118kgs
International record: 11 caps (W 8, L 3)

DoB: 09.03.83. 6'9" / 2.06m. 19st 9lbs / 125kgs
International record: 9 caps (W 5, L 4)

19 Dafydd JONES (SCARLETS - Cap No 1,008)
DoB: 24.06.79. 6'3" / 1.90m. 17st 5lbs / 110kgs
International record: 33 caps (W 13; L 20; 10 pts - 2T)

20 Martin ROBERTS (SCARLETS - Cap No 1,062)
DoB: 06.06.86. 5'9" / 1.76m. 12st 1lb / 77kgs
International record: 1 cap (W 1)

21 James HOOK (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,047)
DoB: 27.06.85. 6'0" / 1.83m. 14st 12lbs / 94kgs
International record: 30 caps (W 12, L 17, D 1; 196 pts - 6T,32C,32PG,2DG)

22 Andrew BISHOP (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,059)
DoB: 07.08.85. 6'0" / 1.83m. 15st 0lbs / 95kgs
International record: 2 caps (W 1, L 1)