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Star Wallaby expects ‘really tough’ battle as Wales look to end losing run

By Finn Morton
Rob Valetini of the Wallabies is tackled during the men's International Test match between Australia Wallabies and Wales at Allianz Stadium on July 06, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wales may be looking to end their long-lasting losing run on Saturday by winning their first Test since last year’s Rugby World Cup pool stages, but that doesn’t mean the Wallabies are expecting a one-sided match.


If the Welsh are successful in tying the two-Test series at one-win-a-piece, they will avoid what would’ve been their ninth loss on the bounce. Their last win was 43-19 against Georgia in early October.

With Cymru falling outside of World Rugby’s men’s top 10 rankings for the first time in their proud history after last week’s 25-16 loss to Australia, Wales already have their backs up against the ropes but they’re still swinging.

Video Spacer

Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

Video Spacer

Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

To make it even tougher, though, assistant coach Rob Howley couldn’t quite ensure the likes of Aaron Wainwright and Liam Williams will take the field at AAMI Park amid uncertainly about their fitness and injury status.

But the Wallabies are bracing for another battle. It was a tense Test last Saturday at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium and reigning Australian rugby Player of the Year, Rob Valetini, expects another “tough” task when they take on their rivals from up north again.

“I think they’ve come away from the other side of the world and I think they’ll be willing to try get one up on us,” Valetini told reporters on Tuesday.

“If I was in the Wales camp or anything like that, I think I’d be putting everything into this week knowing it was our last Test against the Wallabies and then just throwing everything at us.


“We’re preparing for that. We know they’re going to come hard and we know that they’ll be better off from the weekend.

“We’re just preparing for a really tough and physical Welsh team. We’re just expecting that.”

Match Summary

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Turnovers Won

Valetini was an enforcer in the No. 8 jersey for the Wallabies last time out, with the loose forward putting in a shift and a half. The Aussie led the way with 17 carries and also made the most tackles out of any Wallaby with 13.

The hosts went down to 14 men for about five minutes at one stage after Fraser McReight was shown a yellow card and Wales’ Gareth Thomas returned from the sin bin. But during that period, Valetini was a weapon on both sides of the ball.


Fullback Tom Wright will go down in history for that unforgettable solo effort in the 69th minute to score, and halfback Jake Gordon was recognised as the Player of the Match, but Valetini’s effort both can’t and hasn’t been ignored.

That performance has set the tone for another big Test week as the Wallabies look to do something they haven’t been able to achieve since October 2022: win back-to-back Test matches.

“I sort of think back to old Wallabies teams, we haven’t won back-to-back games that many times over the past few years,” Valetini explained.

“It’s all about just knowing that we’ve got another job to do, sort of moving on from the weekend and training this week.

“[There’s] a lot of confidence in the group knowing this is our third week together and knowing that we could put a performance out like that on Saturday – a lot of confidence in the group knowing that we can still build.”


With midfielder Hunter Paisami sitting by his side, Valetini looked more than comfortable a handful of days out from another Test. The Wallabies would’ve celebrated the win on Saturday but were straight into recovery in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs the next morning.

After making their way down to Melbourne, the focus has well and truly shifted. While the cold fills the air and rain pours down from the heavens, the Aussies are looking forward to Saturday after doing things “a lot different” to 2023.

“It’s been good. It’s been thorough as well with our review.

“I guess a lot different from last year with reviewing that… it’s been good.

“A lot of players have been on the laptops doing a lot of review as well so a lot of boys have taken that upon themselves and that’s probably been the best part is that… everyone is reviewing themselves.”

All Black second row Brodie Retallick joins Jim Hamilton for the latest episode of Walk the Talk, touching on life in Japan, RWC 2023 and the future of All Black rugby. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV


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Wonton 2 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

18 Go to comments
Nick 3 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

11 Go to comments
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