AUSTRALIA V WALES (Tomorrow, KO 11.05 BST)
NEIL Jenkins says Wales will have “no excuses” if they do not achieve their goal of ending a 25-year wait for a victory over a Tri Nations team away from home when they open their three-match series against Australia in Brisbane tomorrow.
The 22-21 win over the Wallabies in the third-placed play-off game in Rotorua at the 1987 World Cup was the last time Wales managed to beat one of the three southern hemisphere super-powers on foreign soil.
The only other one is further back in the mists of time, on 21 June, 1969, when Wales beat the Aussies 19-16 in Sydney. Brian Price’s men travelled as Five Nations champions and the holders of the Triple Crown.
Jenkins, who lived through the bad days of Welsh rugby in the nineties and managed only one win in 14 attempts against the Tri Nations teams in his Welsh career, now believes the time has come for a change in fortune.
“The players have had a good week to prepare and we are in pretty good shape. There are no excuses for Saturday night,’’ said Jenkins.
“The feeling I get in the camp is that everyone is looking forward to it. We did pretty well at the World Cup, and very well in winning the Grand Slam, but this is the next step for any side, winning in the southern hemisphere.
“It is an opportunity for us, but it isn’t won on paper. We have to take our chances and limit theirs.’’ The last time Wales were in Brisbane, five years ago, they suffered a 31-0 defeat in the second Test of their tour. Back in 1996 they went down 56-25 and in 1991 they suffered a then record defeat in their history, 63-6.
There are only five survivors in the Wallabies side from 2007 and Mike Phillips is the only Welsh player remaining in the starting line-up. Australia beat Wales twice in the final quarter of 2011, yet even the Australian media and pundits are making Sam Warburton’s men clear favourites after their side’s 9-6 loss to Scotland earlier in the week.
“We know what Saturday holds for us - we are under no illusions as to what is coming. But we have got to back ourselves because we believe we have a pretty good side,’’ said Jenkins.
“We are expecting Australia to come out all guns firing, especially after their very disappointing result against Scotland on Tuesday. I’m just hoping we can match them in that way.
“It’s going to take a huge effort from us to win because they are a fantastic side. They are certainly the second best team in the world and I think they would push the All Blacks. We managed to win the Grand Slam, but now we want that southern hemisphere scalp to take this squad to the next level. It is a huge challenge.
“It would be nice to get off to a winning start in the series because that always puts pressure on the opposition. They are a good side that will be hurting from Tuesday.
“They will be very disappointed about Tuesday night and will want to turn up and put in a good performance.”