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Wallabies run "not down to luck"


Wales captain Sam Warburton wants his side to hit the ground running against England

Wales captain Sam Warburton wants his side to hit the ground running against England

Wales captain Sam Warburton wants his side to hit the ground running against England

Sam Warburton has delivered a brutally honest appraisal of Wales' long losing run against Australia, admitting: "You are not unlucky nine times in a row."

Wales have not toppled the Wallabies since tries by Shane Williams and Lee Byrne underpinned a 21-18 Millennium Stadium success six years ago.

Nine successive defeats have followed - five of those reversals were by four points or less - with the countries' rivalry set for another airing in Cardiff on Saturday.

"You are not unlucky nine times in a row," Wales skipper Warburton said.

"Australia have obviously been that smidge better than we have been over those nine fixtures.

"It's not a psychological barrier. The first time I came into the squad was on the back of beating them in 2008, so you always have the belief when playing these teams.

"It is a massive opportunity for the squad and it is coming to the time, which we have said year after year, with the World Cup on the horizon and the senior players in the group, that we really do have to get a win over one of these teams if we are to be considered one of the best in the world.

"That's why I respect the England team of 2003. When they had their autumn series they turned over all three of them (Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) and sent a real message to world rugby. That's what we have got to aspire to."

Wales have prepared for the autumn series - they also face Fiji, world champions New Zealand and South Africa - through some particularly punishing training that has stood comparison with anything Warren Gatland has demanded of his players during a six-year coaching reign.

"It has probably been the toughest Welsh camp we have been in," Wales and Bath prop Paul James said.

"They pushed us hard last week, and we were in the cryotherapy chamber (for recovery) three times a day.

"During our training camps in Poland we would usually do (cryotherapy) three times a day, but in normal camps it would only be once or twice.

"We have been getting up at 6.30am in the morning - there was not much chat in those sessions. They have been long days. Sometimes you could be doing your last session at 6pm.

"I have just been lying in my bed in the evening like a zombie!

"(The coaching staff) have pushed us to the limit, and hopefully that will stand us in good stead against Australia and starting the autumn well."

And one player leading from the front has been Warburton's fellow flanker Dan Lydiate, who despite his relative lack of game-time with French club Racing Metro this season, has proved a training talisman.

"I hang my head in shame - Dan has been beating me in all the fitness tests over the past two weeks!" Warburton added.

"That shows he has been working so hard at Racing.

"He is in a very good place at the moment. He is physically strong, he is fit and he is performing well in training.

"Dan, defensively, is unrivalled by any blindside or almost any forward in world rugby in the way that he tackles.

"For me, he revolutionised tackling in 2011 with the chop-tackling, and I don't think that I have seen anyone more effective at it. It will be great to have a firing Dan, which I am sure we will get on Saturday."