Based on recent history, Michael Cheika could hardly have hoped for a better opponent than Wales in his first Test assignment as Wallabies coach.
Australia head into Saturday’s match at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium looking to extend a winning streak that spans nine Test matches and almost five years.
Getting the job done again this week would ensure the Wallabies take a significant mental advantage into next year’s World Cup, where the sides will face off in what will likely prove a crucial final match of the group stage.
Wales are looking to end a miserable run of results against all three southern hemisphere heavyweights over the coming month.
Despite winning three Six Nations titles since New Zealander Warren Gatland took over as coach, they have not beaten the All Blacks for 61 years and their last win against South Africa came in 1999.
Australia’s past four wins by Wales have come by four points or less and Welsh assistant coach Neil Jenkins is confident his side’s luck has to turn.
“We have been incredibly close a number of times and for some unknown reason we cannot quite get over the line,” Jenkins said.
“There was the game in Cardiff where Kurtley Beale scored in the last minute (November, 2012), there were the Tests in Melbourne and Sydney (2012) and last year’s game was pretty close too, as was the (2011) World Cup game.
“When you play these sides, they never stop playing.
“Victories are hard to come by, but every single time we play we are in a position to win and some time we are going to get that right.
“Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.”
Cheika and the Australian squad headed for Cardiff on Sunday buoyed by a decent showing in an entertaining 40-36 win over the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
The new coach admitted his side struggled at times to adapt to a new strategy in attack and defence but he’s confident the cohesion will grow throughout the five-match spring tour.
The win provided some positive news for Australian rugby following a controversial month and lock Sam Carter said the Wallabies would head to Wales in high spirits.
“We’re in a very good place at the moment,” Carter said.
“There’s a lot of things we did well (against the Barbarians) and a lot of things we can work on over the next four weeks.”
Back-rower Scott Higginbotham travelled with the team to Cardiff, where he will have scans to determine whether a hamstring injury suffered against Barbarians will rule him out of the remainder of the tour.
AUSTRALIA’S WINNING STREAK OVER WALES
November 30, 2013 – Australia 30 bt Wales 26 in Cardiff
December 1, 2012 – Australia 14 bt Wales 12 in Cardiff
June 23, 2012 – Australia 20 bt Wales 19 in Sydney
June 16, 2012 – Australia 25 bt Wales 23 in Melbourne
June 9, 2012 – Australia 27 bt Wales 19 in Brisbane
Dec 3, 2011 – Australia 24 bt Wales 18 in Cardiff
Oct 21, 2011 – Australia 21 bt Wales 18 in Auckland
Nov 6, 2010 – Australia 25 bt Wales 16 in Cardiff
Nov 28, 2009 – Australia 33 bt Wales 12 in Cardiff
Last Welsh win
Nov 29, 2008 – Wales 21 bt Australia 18 in Cardiff