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Warren Gatland's suprising take from inside camp as Wales fall out of top 10

By PA
The Wales huddle after their defeat 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 will meet Australia in Melbourne after slumping to an all-time world ranking low and facing a possible ninth consecutive Test defeat.

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A 25-16 first Test loss in Sydney meant that Wales dropped to 11th place – they have been overtaken by Fiji – only five years after briefly being ranked world number one.

It is the first time since World Rugby launched its rankings in 2003 that Wales have fallen outside the top 10.

Video Spacer

Springbok attack coach Tony Brown on Handre Pollard’s wayward goal-kicking in the first Test against Ireland

Springbok attack coach Tony Brown believes Handre Pollard’s wayward goal-kicking in the first Test against Ireland in Pretoria was down to fatigue.

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Springbok attack coach Tony Brown on Handre Pollard’s wayward goal-kicking in the first Test against Ireland

Springbok attack coach Tony Brown believes Handre Pollard’s wayward goal-kicking in the first Test against Ireland in Pretoria was down to fatigue.

They meet the Wallabies again next Saturday, when another loss would make it nine Tests on the bounce since beating 2023 World Cup pool-stage opponents Georgia.

Wales’ worst run since they began playing international rugby 143 years ago was 10 games in 2002 and 2003 under Steve Hansen.

That sequence included two Tests against New Zealand, while also incorporating a Six Nations wooden spoon.

Fixture
Internationals
Australia
36 - 28
Full-time
Wales
All Stats and Data

This time around, Wales have lost to Argentina, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Italy, South Africa and Australia, with head coach Warren Gatland’s Test record for his second stint in charge showing 14 defeats from 20 starts.

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And life is unlikely to become any easier, with the Melbourne clash being followed by autumn Tests against Fiji, Australia and South Africa before Wales open their 2025 Six Nations campaign by tackling France in Paris.

Speaking immediately after the Sydney setback and asked about lifting his players for Melbourne, Gatland said: “I don’t think we have to raise them.

“The way the boys have trained and the buzz around them, they have been outstanding.

“We know we are going through a process playing at the highest level, which is about learning to handle some pressure.

“It is just staying in the arm-wrestle. That takes a little bit of time in terms of on-the-field stuff. I have been through that with other teams in the past.

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“Once you get across the line, players in the team learn that understanding and turn those games that are close into wins. That is what we have got to work through at the moment.

“When you win once, you build confidence and learn how to close out games. There are a lot of inexperienced players who are going through that process.

“It is about taking the lessons (from the first Test) and applying them, saying ‘where can I improve my game and be better next week’?”

Gatland, meanwhile, will need to assess the fitness of prop Gareth Thomas after he was forced off injured in Sydney.

Thomas, who was yellow-carded during the first half, made way for Kemsley Mathias early in the second period following a blow to his leg.

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Wonton 4 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.

19 Go to comments
N
Nick 5 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.

15 Go to comments
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