x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Australia scrum-half Will Genia braced for a Welsh welcome

The 24 year old knows he will be the focus of the Welsh defence and Heyneke Meyer says South Africa is more relaxed for their Test against England.

Australia's Will Genia, centre, knows the eyes of the Welsh will be on him as Australia tries to make it six Test victories in a row over Wales, who have not won in Australia since 1969.
Australia's Will Genia, centre, knows the eyes of the Welsh will be on him as Australia tries to make it six Test victories in a row over Wales, who have not won in Australia since 1969.

MELBOURNE // Australia's Will Genia is prepared to accept the close attention of some big Welshmen this weekend but has warned the Wallabies they must raise their game if they are to wrap up the series with a win in the second Test.

Genia was showered with praise after his man-of-the-match performance in Australia's 27-19 victory in Brisbane last week and the Welsh have been talking all week about the importance of containing the No 9 in the second Test.

The 24-year-old scrum-half will link up in a halfback partnership with Berrick Barnes for the fifth straight Test, at Docklands Stadium today, and is ready for whatever the Six Nations champions throw at him.

"If there is any extra attention, I'll just have to deal with it," he said Friday. "I think an area where they will target us is probably our breakdown. They'll look to slow the ball down a little bit so that we don't get the momentum we had last week.

"I'll just ship it early then look to run. If there's a little more attention close to the ruck, then there'll be space elsewhere."

That space might fall to Barnes.

Shaun Edwards, the Wales defensive coach, was wary of what the flyhalf could offer after his fine displays against the Welsh in the third-place play-off at last year's World Cup and the Test in Cardiff that followed it.

"He's very difficult to defend against," the Englishman said of Barnes. "We expect them to play off their No 10 a lot more this week because they played off their 9 a lot last week."

Australia have won their past five Tests against the Welsh but Genia said last week's effort might not be enough for a sixth against a team who won a grand slam earlier this year.

"We've got to be better if we want to win because they're going to be better," he said.

Wales have been boosted by the arrival in Melbourne of their coach, Warren Gatland, the New Zealander, who is expected to lead the British and Irish Lions on their tour of Australia next year, suffered fractures in both of his heels in a fall cleaning windows at his house in April.

Rob Howley, the caretaker, remains in charge but Sam Warburton, the captain, said it would be a lift as they seek a first win over the Wallabies in Australia since 1969.

"To see his face does give us a boost," he told the Western Mail.

"Warren has had a big influence on a lot of players, particularly the younger ones, in terms of giving us a chance. It's great that he's back in the squad. That will lift the players and the management I am sure."



JOHANNESBURG // South Africa will be better prepared and have an altitude advantage when they seek a series-clinching second Test win over England at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Super 15 commitments meant the new Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer had only six days with his squad before the first game last weekend, which South Africa won 22-17 in the Indian Ocean city of Durban.

After playing in familiar sea-level conditions, England must adjust to the 1,800-metre venue where South Africa won the World Cup for the first time, in front of Nelson Mandela, 17 years ago.

The lack of time together showed as South Africa improved on a poor first-half performance to score two tries and then keep England at bay when the tourists finally exhibited some adventure.

"This team is not even five per cent towards where I want them to be," was the blunt assessment of Meyer this week as Johannesburg experienced a typical winter weather combination of cool, sunny days and cold nights.

"You can see the squad is much more relaxed this week and the training sessions have been sharper. However, we have to lift our intensity because England will improve from the first Test."

A Super 14 and Currie Cup winner with Northern Bulls, Meyer advocates continuity. The only change from the Durban starting line-up was forced, with Patrick Lambie replacing the injured Zane Kirchner at full-back.

Chris Robshaw knows England must make history to haul themselves back into the series.

South Africa have lost just once at the ground now known as Coca-Cola Park in the past 10 years - a defeat to the British and Irish Lions in 2009. England have not played at the stadium since 1984.

Robshaw, the captain, said it is an inspiring venue.

"You look around, these are the stadiums you watch on TV and it is so impressive. You run out there and all the players get that feeling of excitement. We want to come here and put our mark on history. Of course, it is not going to be easy but it is extremely exciting and something every player is looking forward to."


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