Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Howley excited by Australian challenge

Wales are leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to beat Australia Down Under for the first time since 1969.

Although the RBS 6 Nations champions have a Millennium Stadium appointment with the Barbarians on June 2, their probable Test starting XV will already be in Brisbane. A group of 15 players, led by defence coach Shaun Edwards, will set off for Australia two days before the Baa-Baas encounter, with the 19 remaining squad members joining them on June 4.

Rob Howley, who will be in caretaker charge of the squad while Warren Gatland continues to recover after fracturing both his heels following a fall last month, said: "The litmus test is the challenge in the southern hemisphere. Coming off a Grand Slam win, we have got a great opportunity in the summer."

He added: "It is a huge challenge to play three Tests in any southern hemisphere country.

"While we have achieved Triple Crowns and Grand Slams, you can only look at the record books and history to see how many times a national side has beaten a major southern hemisphere team away from home.

"It would be a great achievement to win against a southern hemisphere team away from home, whether that is Australia, South Africa or New Zealand.

"If you are going to talk about being involved in World Cup semi-finals and finals, I think winning in the southern hemisphere is something that should be on your agenda."

Howley's current 38-strong training squad will be reduced to 34 for the mission Down Under, but one headline selection to face the Barbarians will be flanker Martyn Williams, who is poised for his 100th cap.

Wales play Australia in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney between June 9 and 23.


From Belfast Telegraph