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Foley set for Wales test

Australia fly-half Bernard Foley expects a "big and confrontational" challenge from Wales in Saturday's clash at the Millennium Stadium.

It will be Foley's first start against Wales as the Wallabies look to make it 10 successive wins at their opponent's expense and give new coach Michael Cheika a victorious start to his Test match career.

There is also the matter of Australia leaving a calling card following the countries' final meeting before they face a World Cup pool showdown next October.

"Wales are a very good outfit, big and confrontational," said Foley, whose Iceman nickname comes from his prolific ability to land match-winning kicks, as illustrated by a penalty 30 seconds from time that saw his New South Wales Waratahs team beat Super Rugby final opponents the Crusaders earlier this year.

"The way they picked their centres (George North and Jamie Roberts) shows they are not going to change. They will try to run through us, not around us.

"They play a complete game with the kicking, running and passing. They have threats from number 1-15, and some good carriers and distributors. It will be a good challenge for us.

"With our winning run against them, we have to keep Wales as far away as possible. There will be a time when they win, but it has not been a talking point for us.

"We are just looking at this game, not the past. It is not about having a mental edge over them, but a new challenge."

Australia will also face France, Ireland and England this month, and Foley added: "The next four games are big with the World Cup next year - the acid test for us.

"We all have a chance to put our hands up and cement our place in the side. We have to look at it a game at a time, and all we can think about is getting the result against Wales and keeping the jersey."

Much of the spotlight this weekend will be on former Leinster supremo Cheika, who guided the Irish province to European Cup glory in 2009 and then enhanced his coaching portfolio by masterminding the Waratahs' 2014 Super Rugby title triumph.

And Foley has no doubt that Cheika can make a mark at the highest level, having succeeded Ewen McKenzie following his resignation just three weeks ago.

"I know 'Cheik' from the Waratahs, and he has been pretty good," Foley said.

"He is honest and up-front and tells you as it is. That is what you want as players, not kept in the dark. The whole squad enjoys that honesty.

"The way we play is a bit of a hybrid, and I have an extra responsibility to pass on what I know to the other guys and get them up to speed in certain areas.

"Australia are finding a way to win, and we have had some games where we have built well but not finished it off."

Australia later confirmed the final composition of their replacements' bench for Saturday - with fly-half Quade Cooper the surprise omission.

Cheika had initially named nine substitutes, and he has now opted for a split of six forwards and just two backs in scrum-half Will Genia and wing Rob Horne.

The back-up forwards confirmed are James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Ben Alexander, James Horwill, Will Skelton and Matt Hodgson.

Playmaker Cooper started last weekend's game against the Barbarians at Twickenham, but he is currently playing second fiddle to number 10 incumbent Foley.


From Belfast Telegraph