Wales start their November Test programme with what promises to be an entertaining clash against Australia in Cardiff on Saturday.
With encounters against Argentina, Japan and South Africa waiting on the horizon, Wales will be keen to kick start their end-of-year campaign with a victory over the Wallabies.
That is easier said than done though as they have lost their last 11 Tests against Australia. The last time Wales beat the Wallabies was in 2008 and just two of their players from that Test – captain and prop Gethin Jenkins as well as centre Jamie Roberts – will be in action this weekend.
With Warren Gatland appointed as the British and Irish Lions’ head coach, Rob Howley has, once again been entrusted with the task of taking over Wales’ coaching duties.
Howley is no stranger to this job as he also took over the reins from June 2012 to March 2013 when Gatland was sidelined with two broken heels while on holiday in New Zealand.
During that time, however, they suffered a 3–0 series defeat to the Wallabies during their 2012 tour of Australia.
Australia, meanwhile, head into this clash with some degree of confidence knowing that their opponents will be desperate to beat them.
The Wallabies have delivered a mixed bag of results in 2016, however. They started the year with three successive defeats to England during their Test series in Australia and followed that up with back-to-back losses against New Zealand.
They won three out of six matches in the Rugby Championship – in which they finished second – before losing their third Test to New Zealand, the Bledisloe Cup clash in Auckland two weeks ago.
Despite their impressive record against their hosts, Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika is taking nothing for granted and expects a tough challenge.
“I don’t know if anyone’s thinking about 12 in a row when you haven’t won as many games as we should’ve won this year,” he said.
“That hasn’t even popped up on anyone’s radar. All that stuff is exactly what it is – the past. It gives us nothing on Saturday and gives them nothing either.
“The two teams on match day, putting their best rugby forward, and the better team will win – that’s how it always boils down.”
Although Australia have been dominant in this fixtures of late, there have several thrilling finishes, with 10 of their 11 consecutive triumphs decided by fewer than 10 points.
2015: Australia won 15-6 in London (RWC)
2014: Australia won 33-28 in Cardiff
2013: Australia won 30-26 in Cardiff
2012: Australia won 14-12 in Cardiff
2012: Australia won 20-19 in Sydney
2012: Australia won 25-23 in Melbourne
2012: Australia won 27-19 in Brisbane
2011: Australia 24-18 in Cardiff
2011: Australia won 21-18 in Auckland (RWC)
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Samson Le, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James King, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Hallam Amos
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 David Pocock, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Sefa Naivalu
Date: Saturday, November 5
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14:30 local
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)