Australia’s winning run against Wales irrelevant – Michael Cheika

Wallabies in line for 12-in-a-row but coach insists better-performing side on day will win

Australia head coach Michael Cheika speaks to his players  ahead of their game against Wales on Saturday. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Australia head coach Michael Cheika speaks to his players ahead of their game against Wales on Saturday. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

 

Michael Cheika does not believe Australia’s long winning run against Wales is relevant going into their Principality Stadium meeting on Saturday.

The Wallabies have reeled off 11 successive wins at Wales’ expense, and not lost in the fixture since 2008.

But Australia head coach Cheika said: “I don’t know if anyone is thinking about 12 in a row at a time when we have not won as many games as we should have this year.

“It has not popped up on anyone’s radar. All that stuff is the past. It gives you nothing on Saturday, and it gives them [Wales] nothing. It is the two teams on match day putting what they consider to be their best rugby forward.

“The better team will win, and that is what it boils down to.”

David Pocock will play at blindside flanker for the first time in his distinguished Test career. Pocock, who has won more than 60 caps in the Wallabies backrow, takes over from a suspended Dean Mumm.

Pocock’s first start

Michael Hooper

Centre Tevita Kuridrani joins Pocock as the only other change following Australia’s defeat to New Zealand in Auckland last time out. Kuridrani replaces an injured Samu Kerevi, with Cheika having resisted any temptation to switch full-back Israel Folau into midfield.

Wales also go into battle with a rejigged backrow – Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau are missing this weekend – but Cheika added: “The players they have got are of high quality.

“If Warburton is not there, [Justin] Tipuric is in any other national team. He is a quality openside, and [Ross] Moriarty is a dynamic player, a handful, and [Dan] Lydiate has form on the board as a strong defender.”

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