Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Australia v Wales: Warren Gatland brings in Botham and Winnett – BBC Sport

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Image source, Huw Evans Picture Agency

Image caption, Full-back Cameron Winnett and flanker James Botham both started against South Africa last month before dropping out of the starting side in Sydney

  • Author, Gareth Griffiths
  • Role, BBC Sport Wales
  • Reporting from Melbourne

Men’s international friendly: Australia v Wales

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne Date: Saturday, 13 July Kick off: 10:45 BST

Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website and app, plus live text commentary, followed by report and reaction on the BBC Sport website and app.

Full-back Cameron Winnett and flanker James Botham will replace the injured Josh Hathaway and Aaron Wainwright for the second Test against Australia in Melbourne.

Head coach Warren Gatland has made two personnel changes and two further position alterations from the side that lost 25-16 in the first Test in Sydney.

Full-back Liam Williams switches to wing, with flanker Taine Plumtree slotting in at number eight.

Botham comes into the back row at blind-side flanker, with Cardiff number eight Mackenzie Martin promoted to the replacements bench.

Plumtree’s only start at number eight this season was for Wales in a World Cup warm-up game against England at Twickenham in August 2023.

Wainwright suffered his hamstring injury in the final minute in Sydney after his outstanding display in his 50th cap and will be ruled out for months.

Wing Hathaway has also been ruled out because of an elbow injury with Williams switching positions and Winnett given the full-back role.

Williams and loose-head prop Gareth Thomas are fit after limping off last weekend, but tight-head prop Dillon Lewis and lock Ben Carter are still missing.

Ben Thomas retains his starting spot at fly-half with Sam Costelow again the back up on the bench.

Wales need a win

The defeat in Sydney was Wales’ eighth international loss on the bounce and they have not won a Test match since beating 2023 World Cup pool-stage opponents Georgia last October.

Wales have also slipped to 11th in the world rankings, their lowest ever position.

Another defeat against Australia would leave Wales one short of their worst Test run, a 10-game sequence from 2002 to 2003 under New Zealander Steve Hansen.

Gatland has a 30% success rate during his second stint as Wales boss, with six wins and 14 defeats in 20 internationals since he took over from Wayne Pivac before the 2023 Six Nations.

Veteran prop James Slipper will captain Australia after newly-appointed skipper Liam Wright was ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Charlie Cale makes a first start at number eight with Rob Valetini pushed to blind-side flanker in the lone personnel change made by Joe Schmidt.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland: “We’re looking forward to getting back out on the pitch this weekend in Melbourne.

“This week we’ve been going through our processes, building on what worked well and sharpening the areas that need improvement.

“We expect Australia to go up another level this weekend and we know we need to as well.

“We want to start well and make sure we are disciplined and accurate from the off.

“Then it’s about keeping in the arm-wrestle for the duration.”

Australia head coach Joe Schmidt: “We found out a bit about ourselves last week and are looking forward to learning a bit more on Saturday night.

“We’ve worked hard again this week in Melbourne and will be going out to earn the support of those in the stands and those at home.”


Australia: Tom Wright; Andrew Kellaway, Josh Flook, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu; Noah Lolesio, Jake Gordon; James Slipper (capt), Matt Faessler, Taniela Tupou, Jeremy Williams, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Charlie Cale.

Replacements: Josh Nasser, Isaac Kailea, Allan Alaalatoa, Angus Blyth, Langi Gleeson, Nic White, Ben Donaldson, Dylan Pietsch.

Wales: Cameron Winnett; Liam Williams, Owen Watkin, Mason Grady, Rio Dyer; Ben Thomas, Ellis Bevan; Gareth Thomas, Dewi Lake (capt), Archie Griffin, Christ Tshiunza, Dafydd Jenkins, James Botham, Tommy Reffell, Taine Plumtree.

Replacements: Evan Lloyd, Kemsley Mathias, Harri O’Connor, Cory Hill, Mackenzie Martin, Kieran Hardy, Sam Costelow, Nick Tompkins.

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