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Lydiate set for Australia test

Dan Lydiate appears on course to feature for Wales in next Saturday's autumn Test opener against Australia despite his lack of game-time this season.

Former Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Lydiate, who will leave French club Racing Metro after the November internationals, has been scarcely used either in France's Top 14 or the European Champions Cup this term.

But it is thought that he could start against the Wallabies when Wales look to halt a slide of nine successive defeats against their 2015 World Cup pool rivals.

"To be honest, since he (Lydiate) has come in, he looks nearly as fit as he was at Rugby World Cup (2011)," Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards said on Monday.

"I know his match fitness is probably not up, but his general all-round conditioning is at a level I have not seen from him probably since he won the 2012 Six Nations player of the tournament."

Lydiate seems set to start in the back-row alongside skipper Sam Warburton and number eight Taulupe Faletau when Wales head coach Warren Gatland announces his line-up on Tuesday.

But there is still no clear-cut decision on the fitness of centres Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams, who suffered shoulder and hamstring injuries, respectively, during Champions Cup games last month.

"They (Davies and Williams) both took a part in training today, but as regards them being available for the weekend we can't make a decision on that yet because we need to see more of them," Edwards added.

Wales have not beaten Australia since November 2008, although five of those nine losses were by four points or less.

"We have spoken about trying to get over the line against one of the southern hemisphere Tri-Nations teams," Edwards said.

"If I am honest, I would be a lot more worried if we were getting beaten by 25 or 30 (points), but there is no doubt that it would be great to have a victory.

"I have come from a background where I have been trying to beat Australia since I was 17, so I know those victories are very hard to come by and you have to work very hard for them.

"As much as anything we have to be very disciplined. We got three backs sin-binned in the last three matches, and it really hurts you in international rugby.

"This standard of rugby is tough enough with 15 players on the pitch, let alone 14. Discipline is a huge part of the international game."

Wales' players, meanwhile, have trained for the first time on a new hybrid pitch at the Millennium Stadium ahead of next Saturday's Wallabies clash.

The £3.1million DESSO installation, a surface that intertwines grass turf with millions of artificial fibres, is used by several Barclays Premier League football clubs and has been part-funded by the Welsh Government.

"The installation of this fantastic new pitch is undoubtedly one of the most important transformations we have instigated since the stadium opened in 1999," Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis said.

"The need to remove the palletised pitch to host non-sporting events is now confined to history, so we have retained true flexibility for the venue as a multi-event stadium.

"The durability of the hybrid surface opens up exciting possibilities for a range of rugby to be played at the Millennium Stadium."

And following Monday's late afternoon session, Wales hooker Richard Hibbard said: "The pitch is good.

"It is a massive investment by the Union, and it is very fast out there. If it holds up like the Liberty Stadium (DESSO pitch), like it should, it will be an amazing pitch.

"In last year's game (against Australia) we didn't have a scrum until the 53rd minute, and that was on a different pitch, so it should be a fast game, It will help with the tempo of the game. It is going to be fun.

"They (Australia) are a dangerous team. They will have a crack at you from everywhere, with quick taps, quick throw-ins. They like to keep the game fast and high-tempo, and hopefully we can match that."

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