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Wales well aware of Argentinian impact on Australia scrum

Published 07/10/2015

Full-back Liam Williams looks set to be involved in Wales' World Cup Pool A decider against Australia on Saturday
Full-back Liam Williams looks set to be involved in Wales' World Cup Pool A decider against Australia on Saturday

Wales hooker Scott Baldwin has acknowledged the South American influence on a transformed Australia scrum.

Former Argentina front-row star Mario Ledesma has been working closely with the Wallabies in that key set-piece area, and Australia showcased their scrummaging power by overpowering England last Saturday on the way to a resounding 33-16 win.

Wales are next up at Twickenham this weekend in a Pool A decider and the Welsh scrum is due a big performance following struggles against England and Fiji, even though they won both games.

"The scrum has been a big part of (Australia's) game, which is something you probably wouldn't have said 18 months ago," Baldwin said.

"Mario Ledesma has had a big influence there.

"It's something we have to step up to as a pack because we haven't been where we need to be. Our timing has been off. There is nothing wrong structurally, but we need to put it right this weekend.

"We had a big open chat on Monday about the scrum. Hopefully, we've put that right in training. It's little things we all need to do, but as an eight.

"I spent a bit of time in Italy a few years ago, and the forwards coach there was Argentinian.

"He was always going on about breathing techniques in the scrums. I'm not sure Ledesma has done that, but he's done a great job.

"The biggest thing with them is they've done what they've practised. They have stuck to what they know, and got their reward."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland, meanwhile, is set to select from a fully-fit squad for Saturday's encounter.

Gatland has lost almost a sixth of his original 31-man World Cup group - Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos and Cory Allen - to tournament-ending injuries but the situation is now better than at any point during the competition.

Full-back Liam Williams (concussion) and prop Paul James (calf) were not available for last week's victory over Fiji but both players could be involved when Gatland names his matchday 23 on Thursday to face the Wallabies.

"We've had a longer turnaround for this Australia game, which has benefited the lads a lot," Wales' consultant head of physical performance Paul Stridgeon said.

"We managed to give them a couple of days off after the Fiji game, so they come into this game a bit fresher.

"We are all fully fit. We have got a couple of bumps and bruises, but generally we are good to go."

Gatland could make a small number of changes for the Wallabies clash, with prop Samson Lee, lock Luke Charteris and flanker Justin Tipuric among those who might gain call-ups.

Former England fitness chief Stridgeon, meanwhile, has paid tribute to the Wales squad.

"The culture here is so strong," he added.

"The boys have a great work ethic, there are no egos, and we haven't had one person question one aspect of the training, no matter what we tell them to do.

"Me and 'Gats' go back to 2002. He gave me my first job at Wasps, so when he rang me (about working with Wales) it was a dream for me.

"There is a lot of trust with everyone. Everyone is great at their job and are tremendously loyal, and we have a bit of fun as well."

Behind the scenes, ghostly goings-on at Wales' Oatlands Park Hotel base in Weybridge continue to be a topic of conversation, especially the supposedly-haunted room 1313.

"As soon as Dan Lydiate saw (the 'ghost') and then managed to get back to sleep, Warbs (Sam Warburton) couldn't get back to sleep, so he was a bit tired for the first couple of days here," Stridgeon added. "Now they've moved from that room.

"Dan said he saw a big figure at the end of his bed, stood on the radiator with a massive beard. He thought it was (Wales lock) Jake Ball. Someone said Henry VIII, but I don't think he's ever been here.

"It wasn't something we had bargained for, but as a support staff we will deal with anything that is thrown at us. A little team talk before they go to bed - 'listen, if the ghost comes, just give us a call'."

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