'I don't think it matters': World Cup edge not relevant for Wallabies
The injury-hit Wallabies will be aiming to end their Spring Tour on a high when they take on Wales in Cardiff this weekend.
Wallabies captain James Slipper doesn’t think a win over Wales this weekend will give his team a psychological edge ahead of their World Cup showdown in 10 months’ time.
Wales and Australia have been placed in the same group at the 2023 World Cup in France, and both sides are in desperate need of a win following a run of harrowing losses.
The Wallabies have lost three matches in a row in what has turned into a Spring Tour of injury carnage.
Although the tight losses to heavyweights France (30-29) and Ireland (13-10) were commendable, the Wallabies’ first ever loss to Italy heaped huge pressure on coach Dave Rennie.
Wales also lost to Italy earlier this year, but it was last week’s defeat to Tier 2 nation Georgia that has put coach Wayne Pivac in the firing line.
Sunday’s (AEDT) clash between Wales and Australia in Cardiff is set to be an intriguing affair given the pressure on both nations, but Slipper doesn’t think the victor will have an advantage come the World Cup.
“I don’t think it matters,” Slipper said.
“You look at the World Cup, you’ve essentially got to win seven games in a row. The pressure is at the maximum.
“And to be fair, both teams could be totally different (by then). We don’t know what players will be backing up from this game to the next game.
“I do prefer having momentum going into the World Cup, so that’s why getting results on this tour would have been great.
“But I feel like the way we’ve played and competed has given myself confidence in the playing group.”
Former skipper Michael Hooper became the seventh player sidelined following last week’s loss to Ireland after the veteran flanker developed post-match concussion symptoms.
It meant Rennie had just 25 available players to choose from this week to make up his match-day squad.
“The bus seems a little bit empty,” Slipper said.
“But everyone survived captain’s run, which is nice.”
Five-eighth Ben Donaldson has been handed his first Wallabies start among a host of changes, while Fraser McReight replaces Hooper in the No.7 jersey.
Rennie has put his team on alert for a fierce Wales effort following their shock loss to Georgia.
“They’ll be hurting,” Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said.
“We’ve reflected on that. We’re hurting as well because we put a lot into last week’s effort and came up short.
“But you’re right, we’re well aware how much they’ll be hurting after that loss. They’re probably getting it in the media here and they’ll want a response. So we fully understand the intensity required.”
Wales have won their past three games against the Wallabies, dating back to 2018.
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