Australia v Wales head-to-head ratings: The new-look teams examined

-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)
-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)

Wales face the Wallabies in Sydney tomorrow hoping to put a stop to a run of seven straight Test defeats.

Warren Gatland's side are in a period of transition but they aren't alone as Australian rugby launches a brand new era under former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. In total there are seven debutants in the Wallabies' matchday 23, the highest number for 44 years, with many unfamiliar faces in the Wallabies squad.

It's safe to say the Wallabies are a bit of an unknown quantity and are not the side Wales thrashed 40-6 in Lyon just under 10 months ago. Wales will fancy their chances of claiming a first win against the Wallabies on Australian soil since 1969 but how do both sides compare on paper?

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Rugby correspondent Steffan Thomas runs the rule over Wales and Australia:

Tom Wright 7 v Liam Williams 8

Brumbies full-back Wright was a shock omission from Eddie Jones' World Cup squad and the Wallabies were all the poorer for it. The 26-year-old has been in excellent form for the Brumbies this season with his aerial skills and ability to cut the line something Wales will have to contain.

But his opposite number is world class under the high ball, as brave as they come in defence and remains one of the most dangerous broken field runners in the game.

Andrew Kellaway 7 v Rio Dyer 6

Kellaway has been been a consistent performer for the Wallabies, scoring 11 tries in 27 Test matches. The 28-year-old is a very good finisher who is also strong defensively.

Dragons wing Dyer brings pace and huge work rate, while the 24-year-old has been a consistent performer for Wales since making his Test debut against the All Blacks in 2022. Both wingers are strong under the high ball, an area which will be crucial to the outcome of this Test Match.

Josh Flook 6 v Owen Watkin 6

It's a Test debut for Flook but don't let his inexperience fool you because the 22-year-old has been in red hot form for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby. Flook is an intelligent footballer who makes other players around him look good, while he is also a balanced runner.

Watkin is an experienced campaigner on the international circuit and is a safe pair of hands for Wales. The Ospreys midfielder has a low error rate and is defensively sound but perhaps lacks a cutting edge in attack.

Hunter Paisami 7 v Mason Grady 6

Paisami was another player surprisingly left out of Australia's World Cup squad by Eddie Jones but this is a new era for the Wallabies and the 26-year-old has been rewarded for his fine form for the Queensland Reds. The 25-times capped centre is a very powerful and explosive runner who could cause Wales plenty of problems.

Cardiff star Grady has a huge ceiling but is still finding his feet as an international player. The 22-year-old will be tasked with getting Wales over the gainline while his explosive top end pace should really test Australia's defence.

Filipo Daugunu 6 v Josh Hathaway 6

On his day Daugunu is a dangerous attacking player with bags of pace and has an impressive try scoring record for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby. But inconsistency has previously held him back, while defensively he is suspect, but on his day he can be deadly.

This is a big ask for Hathaway who has been thrown in at the deep end after impressing in training. But the 20-year-old is there on merit and has been in sensational form for Gloucester in the Gallagher Premiership.

Hathaway has electric pace, is a talented footballer and is one of the best finishers in the English game. His challenge will be holding his own defensively and in the air.

Noah Lolesio 7 v Ben Thomas 6

Lolesio was a favourite of Dave Rennie's but found himself surplus to requirements under Eddie Jones. The 24-year-old is a very gifted footballer with peripheral vision, good distribution, is a dangerous runner and has a solid kicking game.

He won 21 caps before being left out of Jones' World Cup squad but a short stint at French giants Toulon has reignited his career, while he has been playing well for the Brumbies although he is prone to mistakes when put under pressure.

Thomas has played the vast majority of his rugby at inside centre but Gatland sees him as an outside-half at Test level. The 25-year-old is a very talented player with huge vision and while he is more than capable of performing at this level, his game management will be tested to the full on Saturday.

Jake Gordon 6 v Ellis Bevan 6

With a move to French big spenders Toulon recently falling through, Gordon finds himself lining up in the number nine shirt for his country. The 31-year-old is an experienced player who brings a physical edge and does the basics well but perhaps doesn't possess the X-factor of previous Australian scrum-halves.

Bevan performed well for Wales behind a beaten pack on debut against the Springboks a fortnight back. The 24-year-old has lovely service, while his box kicking is decent but he needs a run of games at Test level before people pass judgement on the Cardiff man as an international player.

James Slipper 7 v Archie Griffin 6

Slipper is one of the most experienced props in the world game with 134 international caps to his name. The 35-year-old knows all the dark arts in the scrum while he also brings a huge work rate around the park.

This is Griffin's second cap for his country and his first start but the Wales management are extremely excited at his potential. Griffin is third-choice tighthead at Bath but whenever he has played his scrummaging has been very strong and that is what Wales will need him to do on Saturday.

Matt Faessler 6 v Dewi Lake 8

Faessler will win his sixth cap for the Wallabies and he comes into international camp off the back of a good Super Rugby season with the Queensland Reds. The 25-year-old is a good set-piece hooker who carries well but he has his work cut out against the impressive Lake.

The Wales captain is on the cusp of being called world class and was outstanding in the recent defeat to South Africa. Lake is a natural leader of men and an inspirational figure, but more than anything else it is all about the physicality he brings to this Wales front five.

The Ospreys hooker is a very powerful carrier who makes huge post contact metres while his work at the breakdown is very good.

Taniela Tupou 8 v Gareth Thomas 7

On his day Tupou is one of the finest tighthead props in the world game but can sometimes be a bit inconsistent which is why he scores eight and not nine. Tupou is a phenomenal carrier who makes serious metres and has outrageous skills for a tighthead prop, while his scrummaging is also solid.

Ospreys man Thomas has been Mr Consistent for Wales over the last few years. The 30-year-old is a strong scrummager who gets through a huge amount of work both defensively and at the breakdown.

Jeremy Williams 6 v Christ Tshiunza 6

Not many Wales fans will have heard of Western Force lock Williams but he has been selected on merit after an impressive Super Rugby season. Williams is a natural leader having captained the Force this season and is a real grafter, the sort of player who does the unseen dirty work which allows others to thrive.

Up until recently Tshiunza has been predominantly seen as blindside but having put on some considerable weight during his time sidelined with a foot injury, Warren Gatland has seen fit to try him at lock. The 22-year-old is a supreme athlete but has yet to make a mark on the international game.

There will be a big onus on the Exeter Chiefs man to carry hard, win lineout ball and also provide his athleticism and dynamism around the park.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 7 v Dafydd Jenkins 7

Salakaia-Loto is another supreme athlete who on his day is a top end Test player, but he does tend to drift in and out of games. After an underwhelming spell at Northampton Saints the 27-year-old returned to Australia and has been playing well for the Melbourne Rebels.

Jenkins was Wales skipper during the Six Nations and while the championship didn't go well as a collective Jenkins was one of the better second-rows in the tournament. The Exeter Chiefs star brings a real physical edge and gets through a huge amount of important work around the park.

Liam Wright 7 v Taine Plumtree 7

The 26-year-old has not played a Test match for the Wallabies since 2020 but has been selected to captain the side against Wales. His head coach Joe Schmidt has described him as an "understated" individual and to his credit Wright has been very good for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby.

Plumtree is one of the rising stars of Welsh rugby and Gatland is very excited at how good the Scarlets star could be at the 2027 Rugby World Cup. He remains a work in progress but he is one of those players with the right blend of athleticism and physicality.

Fraser McReight 8 v Tommy Reffell 8

McReight has been in outstanding form for the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby and was one of Australia's better players in what was a disastrous World Cup campaign. The 25-year-old is very good over the ball while he is a dynamic carrier with a real physical edge.

Wales may have finished with the Wooden Spoon but Reffell was still arguably the best openside in the Six Nations. The Leicester Tigers star is one of the best exponents of the breakdown in the Northern Hemisphere and his battle with McReight will go a long way to determining the result of this game.

Rob Valetini 7 v Aaron Wainwright 8

Powerful No 8 Valetini is a destructive carrier and is someone Wales will have to contain if they are to come out on top in Sydney. On his day Valetini is a top end Test player but he does have a habit of drifting in and out of Test matches.

Wainwright has been outstanding for Wales over the past 18 months and will be a serious contender to return to Australia with the British & Irish Lions next summer. The Dragons star will win his 50th international cap on Saturday and Wales will need him to be at his very best if they are to knock over the Wallabies.

Australia replacements 5 v Wales replacements 6

Joe Schmidt has included five uncapped players on the Wallabies bench and while they are all talented players the step up from Super Rugby to the international game is bigger than it has ever been. Tighthead Allan Alaalatoa and scrum-half Tate McDermott are the only experienced replacements.

The likes of outside-half Tom Lynagh, son of Wallabies great Michael, prop Isaac Kailea, lock Angus Blyth, backrower Charlie Cale and utility back Dylan Pietsch are capable players but unproven at this level. Wales' bench is hardly the most experienced either but and there will be concerns whether replacement front-rowers Evan Lloyd, Kemsley Mathias and Harri O'Connor can keep the set-piece ticking over during the final quarter.

But James Botham, Kieran Hardy, Sam Costelow and Nick Tompkins should add something positive.


Australia - 107

Wales - 107