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Wales unveil side for Wallabies

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Alun Wyn Jones to make history as Warren Gatland names Wales team for pool-deciding clash against Australia

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has stuck with the XV that dispatched of Georgia without too much trouble last week and named almost exactly the same 23 for Wales’ grudge match against Australia.

It’s a brave move from Gatland, given that Wales will likely be forced into resting a number of players in the Red Dragons’ upcoming matches with Fiji and Uruguay – who could both represent banana skins for the Six Nations champions.

Alun Wyn Jones will again captain the team and will make his 130th appearance for Wales, which will make him the most capped Welsh player of all time.

The one change in the matchday squad comes on the bench where Owen Watkin takes over from Leigh Halfpenny in the 23 jersey.

There were some questions over the availability of Ken Owens and Hadleigh Parkes, who picked up knocks against Georgia last week, but they’ve both been cleared to play.

Last November, Wales broke a 13-match losing streak against the Wallabies and will be hoping to create a streak of their own going forward. Gatland’s latest side includes nine survivors from last year’s victory. Still, forwards coach Robin McBryde remains cautious.

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“We know we can beat them but other than that this is a completely different tournament, different game, a lot more at stake,” said McBryde.

“The Autumn internationals are very much a one-off. We’ll take heart from the fact we know we can beat them, but it’s different circumstances, there’s a lot more at stake, it’s going to be a good battle.”

Australia, who are known as one of the better teams at the breakdown thanks to the likes of Michael Hooper and David Pocock, have forced Wales to focus on their work in the rucks this week.

“They’ve got a very competitive six and seven and they’re big men. If we’re in any way slow to get to that breakdown, they’re very big men to try to move so we have to make sure there’s no separation between ball carrier and our first arrivals,” McBryde said.

Wales’ own breakdown tyro, Justin Tipuric, who was one of the best players on the park against Georgia, will have his work cut out for him against the Wallabies duo.

“It’s invaluable to have someone like Justin in the ranks, he brings that air of calmness. He doesn’t say a lot but when he speaks it carries a lot of weight,” said McBryde.

“I know he didn’t get man-of-the-match award for the Georgia game but in my view he deserved it because with and without the ball I thought the decision making he did, he made with the ball in hand, defensively he was very good as well, and he offers quite a bit in set-piece, from a line-out point of view both in attack and defence.

“To have someone like Justin with the experience he’s got, encouraging him to share that with the group this week, it’s just great really and makes my role as a coach much easier.”

Still, there’s no sign of Tipuric’s fellow loose forward, Ross Moriarty, being returned to the first-choice lineup anytime soon.

“[Moriarty] has trained well this morning,” McBryde revealed.

“Everybody realises what is at stake to take part in a match in the Rugby World Cup and that gives training an extra edge. It is great for us as coaches because we can take a step back and motivation is not an issue. Everybody realises the magnitude of this game against Australia and are keen to stake a claim.”

The match between Wales and Australia will kick off at 4:45PM JST on Sunday from Tokyo Stadium.

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Jake Ball, Tom Francis, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Res: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

Warren Gatland is confident that he has the men at his disposal to take out the World Cup:

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Alun Wyn Jones to make history as Warren Gatland names Wales team for pool-deciding clash against Australia