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'Records are meant to be broken' says Dewi Lake on drought Down Under

By PA
Dewi Lake of Wales looks dejected at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Wales and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on October 14, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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

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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.

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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.

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.

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“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.

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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.

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.

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“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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1 Comment
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Barry 13 days ago

Lots on the line for Wales. Still think they've yet to hit rock bottom.

If they lose to a team they put 40 PTS on just 9 months ago, it would be seismic.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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