Wales bid to break duck against Wallabies
Agence France-Presse in Cardiff
Statistics do not read well for Wales going into their last international test match of 2012 against Australia at the Millennium Stadium today.
The defending grand slam champions are on a six-match losing streak and have so far been trumped by Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand in their November matches, while the Wallabies bounced back from a surprise mauling in France to beat England and Italy.
If that record wasn't bad enough, Wales must beat Australia to remain in the top eight seeds for Monday's 2015 World Cup draw in London, teams in the top two bands of four receiving a more favourable group.
Should Australia win, not only would it be their eighth consecutive win against the Welsh since 2009, but it would also mean that they leapfrog South Africa to finish the year as they started - ranked second in the world.
"There's very little between us, nothing in them," Australia coach Robbie Deans admitted, highlighting his team's 11-point combined winning total in the three matches in the summer.
"There are not too many surprises in international rugby and, since the World Cup, defences have ramped up. Part of that is in the conditioning and Wales are one of the most conditioned. Wales will throw everything at us, no doubt."
But Deans said the Wallabies would be looking to finish their long season, in which they had played an incredible 16 tests, on a high ahead of a well-earned break, the resumption of Super 15 rugby and the 2013 tour of the British and Irish Lions.
"We don't want to go into summer unhappy with our last performance," the New Zealander said. "It's the last opportunity for our group before the Lions and also the Wales players to present themselves."
Deans named David Pocock in his starting XV, the openside flanker who led Australia to the three-test clean sweep in June having recovered from a knee injury that has ruled him out since the Wallabies' opener of the Rugby Championship against the All Blacks in August.
"It's great to have David to inject into the game," Deans said, with lock Kane Douglas also returning from a knee injury to take over from the suspended Sitaleki Timani, while Tatafu Polota-Nau resumes at hooker.