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Welsh road to the 2019 World Cup starts now, says McBryde

Published 04/11/2016

Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde has underlined the importance of a successful season ahead of next May's 2019 World Cup pool draw
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde has underlined the importance of a successful season ahead of next May's 2019 World Cup pool draw

Robin McBryde accepts that Wales can help their cause for the 2019 World Cup by delivering successful results this season.

A nine-Test campaign begins on Saturday when Australia arrive at the Principality Stadium.

With the Japan 2019 pool draw taking place in May next year, the higher a world ranking Wales can obtain by then should assist them avoiding a so-called group of death repeat.

Defeat against Australia in December 2012 relegated Wales outside the world's top eight - and the subsequent 2015 World Cup draw saw them grouped alongside the Wallabies and hosts England.

"We know the implications of not having a very successful period between now and May," Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist McBryde said.

"The repercussions of that we felt in the last World Cup, really, where we had a short turnaround against quality teams, and ultimately that took quite a bit out of us.

"We know we can help our cause in 2019 by getting results at this stage. Everyone is more than aware of that.

"It does give a little bit more importance to getting those wins in the next however many months it is."

If Wales are to start on the right foot, though, they must end an 11-match losing run against Australia, a sequence that stretches back eight years.

"Australia are ranked above us, and they are always a quality team," McBryde added.

"At this stage of the season, historically, we haven't been very strong, so hopefully this young group of players that we've got will enter the game tomorrow with no baggage and give it their best shot."

Wales field only seven survivors from their last game - a 46-6 defeat against world champions New Zealand in Dunedin just over four months ago - and they go into battle without absent forwards in flanker Sam Warburton, lock Alun Wyn Jones and number eight Taulupe Faletau.

It has meant a new-look back-row of Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty being selected, while Australia - potentially crucially - can field their twin masters of the breakdown in David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

The stadium roof will be open at Wales' request this weekend - dry conditions are forecast - as they look to derail Australia's possible Grand Slam tour of Great Britain and Ireland this autumn at the first opportunity.

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley, in charge this season while Warren Gatland concentrates on British and Irish Lions business ahead of next summer's New Zealand tour, fully recognises the Pocock/Hooper threat.

"With Pocock and Hooper, it shows the sort of landscape they want to play. It's up to us to make sure that they are not in control of that landscape, and that's a challenge," Howley said.

"The contact area is going to be hugely important, and they've got two specialists, and that's going to be a huge challenge.

"They are a big physical pack, with the front-five looking to set a good platform for the six, seven and eight to have an influence around the park.

"It is important we control what we control. The contact area is always a focus in international rugby, in winning those small yards in those areas and making sure we are technically and tactically right.

"The big thing for us on Saturday is having composure and being clinical, particularly when we get into those areas which we did 12 months ago (against Australia in the World Cup).

"The longer we have the ball, the longer they don't, and that is a challenge in itself."

The Wales players will wear shirts embroidered with details of the Aberfan disaster on Saturday.

The Welsh Rugby Union said: "T o pay respects to the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster and to support the community of Aberfan, the squad have emblazoned their match jersey with the details of the disaster.

" After privately visiting the cemetery and memorial gardens in Aberfan in the past few weeks and meeting survivors of the disaster, as well as members of the community, the squad requested for their match jerseys to be embroidered with details of the disaster to further show their respect and support."

The WRU also confirmed that the players had decided to wear black armbands on Saturday in memory of lock Alun Wyn Jones' father Tim, who died earlier this week.

"Thoughts and prayers of the squad are with Alun Wyn and his family at this difficult time," the WRU added.

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