WALES v AUSTRALIA (Saturday, KO 2.30)
WALES have been warned they face Australia’s ‘Richie McCaw’ with David Pocock set for his comeback game for the Wallabies in Cardiff on Saturday.
The outstanding openside flanker was yesterday compared with All Blacks legend McCaw who starred again for New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium last weekend.
Pocock missed most of the Wallabies’ 2012 internationals with a serious knee injury but is likely to be fit this weekend after also overcoming a calf problem.
The ACT Brumbies great tormented Wales during June’s 3-0 Test series humbling and gained the upper hand over Sam Warburton and his men at the breakdown.
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde had high praise for Pocock and admitted Wales have their hands full trying to contain him as they seek to avoid an autumn series whitewash.
“He’s a huge player for them, isn’t he? Pocock is quite a bit of a talisman for them,” he said.
“To have him back in the team is going to raise them again. He is akin to Richie McCaw, and the influence he has with the All Blacks.”
Wales – who look to bounce back from three defeats out of three to Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand in November – could receive a big boost of their own.
Lock Ian Evans, who injured his knee in the embarrassing 26-19 Samoa setback, missed last weekend’s 33-10 drubbing by New Zealand but could well feature this weekend.
If the 6ft 8in Ospreys man is fit, he and ex-Newport Gwent Dragons lock Luke Charteris, who stands at 6ft 9in, are likely to combine to form one of the biggest second row partnerships in Welsh international history.
The hosts have been ravaged by injury this season and will be without the services of lock Bradley Davies, who was concussed after being clobbered from behind by Andrew Hore on Saturday – the All Blacks hooker’s disciplinary hearing taking place today after he was cited.
As well as Evans, Wales are sweating on the fitness of centre Jamie Roberts, wing George North (both hip), outside half Dan Biggar (shoulder) and back rower Ryan Jones (head). They have delayed naming their team until tomorrow with McBryde revealing yesterday they are no clearer on who will be fit or not to face the Wallabies.
“We can’t confirm anything at the moment,” he said.
“We are going to give some players as much time as possible, so we are looking at Thursday, really.
“Ian Evans took a part in training this morning, which was a positive, but we are not forcing anybody.
“We haven’t got great numbers in training, so Thursday will be the important day for us.”