Kurtley Beale is confident the Wallabies can extend their decade-long dominance over Wales this weekend despite the team’s poor recent run of form.
Australia haven’t lost in 13 encounters to the Welsh – dating back to 2008 when the principality won a thrilling contest 21-18 in Cardiff.
However, that record will be severely tested on Saturday (Sunday 0430 AEDT) against Warren Gatland’s third-ranked team, who defeated Scotland last weekend.
Only last month’s miraculous comeback in Salta against Argentina prevented a first ever last-place finish in the Rugby Championship for the Wallabies who now sit sixth in the IRB rankings having lost eight of their last 11 Tests.
Michael Cheika’s side head into the game on the back of 38-20 defeat to the All Blacks in Yokohama.
But Beale insists the team aren’t far away from a strong performance against a team they’ll face in the World Cup group stages next year.
“As a group we are trying to look for that consistency and building on the game we want to play,” Beale said.
“Throughout the year there has been some inconsistency with our defence and attack and we are always striving for that 80-minute performance.
“This is a great opportunity to test ourselves against the Welsh.They had a great result last week and will be on their feet ready to bounce and excited by the challenge.”
Beale has never lost against Wales and was outstanding in last year’s 29-21 win at the Principality Stadium – the venue where he made his debut off the bench in 2009 – and said it’s a ground he enjoys playing at.
“That first cap is always special and you always remember those times but it is about the opposition you are up against,” he said.
“The Welsh always have an exciting brand of rugby to play and I guess it’s someone I enjoy playing against.
“There is a lot of scope there as an outside back or a playmaker to try and pick them off. I always look forward to an exciting match.”
Veteran outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper could be in line to win his 118th cap following his surprise recall to the squad after a two-year absence.
Ashley-Cooper will become only the second Australian to play in four World Cups, behind George Gregan, if he makes the cut for Cheika’s squad next year.
The 34-year-old, who has been playing in Japan since 2016, said his hunger for success still burns and is hopeful a move back home to secure a Super Rugby contract can bolster his selection hopes.
“There’s been chats with a few teams … but I didn’t expect to come on the tour so those discussions are on hold,” Ashley-Cooper said.
“I certainly made it clear that the way I want to get to a World Cup is by playing in the Super Rugby competition for a Super Rugby team.
“That’s something I’m really excited by – the potential to play Super Rugby and get to a World Cup.
“After three World Cups you get so far. You are obviously aware of that journey with the Wallabies (in 2015).
“We got so close and it was a great campaign for us.
“To get so far but pull up short always leaves you very unsatisfied.”