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Rhys Webb claims Wallabies hoodoo doesn't bother Wales

Rhys Webb says that Wales' long run of losses to Australia is not in the thought process ahead of Saturday's clash.

Wales open a testing autumn schedule in Cardiff - Argentina, Japan and South Africa are also on the November programme - aiming to halt a run of 11 successive defeats against Australia.

They have not beaten the Wallabies since November 2008 - head coach Warren Gatland's 11th Test in charge - with only two starters from that match, centre Jamie Roberts and prop Gethin Jenkins, expected to feature this weekend.

Six of the defeats were by five points or less, and although Wales average 18 points a game against Australia during that barren sequence, they still await a win.

Scrum-half Webb insists it is not a hot topic of conversation in the Wales camp.

"Obviously, there have been plenty of opportunities against Australia, but that's for you guys (media) to talk about - the narrow losses," the Ospreys and Wales number nine said.

"We certainly haven't been thinking about it these last two weeks.

"We are just going to concentrate on ourselves. We have learnt from our tour to New Zealand (in June). We talked about what we needed to do better. We know what we need to do, and we know we need to play for 80 minutes.

"We are professional rugby players, and we want to play games to win. It's all about winning. We are just concentrating on ourselves, and making sure we get our job done."

The Australia squad arrived in Cardiff from London on Wednesday to continue preparations for what will be their first fixture since completing a Rugby Championship campaign when New Zealand left all challengers floundering.

Australia were best of the rest, finishing as runners-up, but a 17-point gap between themselves and the All Blacks told its own emphatic story.

"They (Australia) have had their injuries, but they have got a lot of talent across the board," Webb added.

"We know how dangerous they are. Some of the individuals they've got in their team, they can create stuff from wherever on the field."

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley - he is at the helm this season while Gatland concentrates on British and Irish Lions business ahead of next summer's New Zealand tour - will name his starting line-up on Thursday.

Three Test Lions with 230 Wales caps between them - skipper Sam Warburton, lock Alun Wyn Jones and number eight Taulupe Faletau - will miss the Wallabies encounter.

Warburton looks set to begin his comeback from injury for Cardiff Blues against Treviso in Italy on Friday, while Faletau remains sidelined by a knee problem and Jones withdrew from selection following the death of his father.

Jenkins is favourite to captain Wales this weekend with Warburton absent - he has done the job on five previous occasions - with Justin Tipuric featuring at openside flanker in a back-row that could also include Dan Lydiate and Ross Moriarty.

Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies are the likely second-row pairing, and Leigh Halfpenny is expected to be at full-back rather than on the wing if Liam Williams is ruled out by injury.

Halfpenny, who has scored more than 500 points for Wales during a 62-cap international career, has not played Test rugby since September last year after suffering a serious knee injury during Wales' final 2015 World Cup warm-up game against Italy.


From Belfast Telegraph