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Aussies ready for Cardiff clash

Jim Williams

Australia will need to meet the physical challenge posed by Wales at close quarters to win Saturday's Test at the Millennium Stadium, according to assistant coach Jim Williams.

The Wallabies have established a reputation as one of the most exciting sides in the world, having adapted an attractive handling style of play in response to the new law variations at the breakdown which are designed to favour the attacking side.

"Our improvement has been down to a lot of hard work from the boys throughout the last couple of years, and again this year," said Williams.

That helped them end a run of 10 straight defeats against New Zealand in Hong Kong on Saturday, but there have been question marks over the Australia front five for a number of seasons and they were humiliated in the scrum during their drawn Test series with England in the summer.

But former Wallabies, Brumbies and Munster flanker Williams insists the hard work put in over recent years means the tourists will be no soft touch come Saturday afternoon.

He added: "When we had some injuries earlier this year some of the guys had a tough time, but they are now stronger physically and mentally as a result and have come on heaps.

"There is a big emphasis on the set piece in Europe and we know we will need to make sure we can compete there.

"Northern hemisphere sides like to keep it nice and close and play to their set piece and through the ruck and you need to be physical in that area, both in terms of carrying the ball in attack and in defensive situations."

Australia's lineout has also proved problematical in recent games. They struggled badly in that area when they lost the first of two Tests they played in South Africa during the Tri Nations, and a few throws went astray in their thrilling win over the All Blacks.

"At set piece we are always working hard through both of those areas. There were only a couple of mistakes (at the lineout against New Zealand) but it was where they were and when they were," Williams added. "We are putting the boys under pressure in those areas on the training paddock and hopefully that will translate into us producing a good set-piece display in the game on Saturday."