Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Australia v Wales: Joe Schmidt and Gatland reunited in Sydney

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Both coaches are in challenging jobs coming into the summer series, with ninth-placed Australia playing a Wales side one place lower in the world rankings.

Gatland has six wins and 13 defeats in his second stint in charge of Wales.

There have been seven successive losses since last year’s World Cup, where Gatland’s side reached the quarter-finals.

After Australia’s humiliating World Cup pool exit, which included a record 40-6 defeat against Wales in Lyon, Eddie Jones quit and the Wallabies have turned to Schmidt.

This summer represents the beginning of a crucial few years for Australian rugby, with the British and Irish Lions touring next year before they host the 2027 World Cup.

Gatland expects Schmidt to have an immediate effect despite having spent only a couple of weeks with his new squad.

“I saw something where he said he has never felt so unprepared, but that can work in two ways,” said Gatland.

“This is a pretty important starting point for them, with the Lions coming next year and the World Cup in 2027.

“He’ll bring structure and organisation for them, some continuity and self-belief.

“He’s put a good coaching team together with Mike Cron, Laurie Fisher and Geoff Parling.

“They are incredibly experienced guys who are well respected in the game. Hopefully things go well for Australia, but not in the next couple of weeks.”

Schmidt is also looking forward to the reunion.

“I have known Gats (Gatland) for a long time, we played against each other and I even played a couple of games with him,” he said.

“I know Gats will spark the emotions and he will have a very passionate Welsh team out there on Saturday night.”



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