Bennett: World Cup still stings
Huw Bennett admits "it will take a while" for Wales to get over the crushing disappointment of their World Cup semi-final defeat.
Bennett and company climb back on the proverbial horse on Saturday for a Millennium Stadium appointment with Australia 43 days after the countries last met. On that occasion it was in Auckland, with Australia claiming a World Cup bronze medal match victory just six days after Wales lost to semi-final opponents France.
It was a deflating way for Wales to end their best World Cup campaign since 1987, and Bennett said: "It left a lot of 'what ifs' for people, but it was great to come back home and discover the buzz it created here. We gave it everything, and to have people be proud of us was a pick-me-up."
He added: "It will take a while to get over it all, but we are professional sportsmen and part of that is being able to deal with losses. We came very close, but although we could have gone further, people didn't expect us to get as far as we did."
Wales coach Warren Gatland has made six changes from the side beaten by Australia last time out, some of them enforced with players like centre Jonathan Davies, prop Adam Jones and locks Luke Charteris and Alun-Wyn Jones injured.
One player returning to action, though, is last season's Wales skipper Matthew Rees, who missed the World Cup because of a neck problem, but is now back, albeit on bench duty providing hooking cover for Bennett.
"I don't know any player who has been injured who didn't want to fight to get his jersey back," Bennett added. "There is always good rivalry in the Welsh squad, which makes for a healthy situation.
"I had a week and a half off after last season finished before the Barbarians game in June, then another week off before going to Poland for training, and it has been pretty much straight through from there.
"You need a different mindset from the southern hemisphere boys because the World Cup was the culmination of their season before they had a long rest. For us, we are straight into the start of things, but then that's the way it is.
"Wales and Australia at the Millennium Stadium is big enough, but there is the fact that it is the first chance for people to welcome us back after the World Cup and it is also (wing Shane Williams') farewell game."