Jones urges Wales to forget the past
November 26, 2008
Can Jones and Wales finish the year with a flourish against the Wallabies? © Getty Images
Wales captain Ryan Jones insists the history books have no bearing on Saturday's autumn Test finale against Australia.
Although Wales' overall record is abysmal when it comes to Tri-Nations opposition during the professional era - played 33, won two - the Wallabies have occasionally offered them a glimmer of hope. Wales toppled Australia 24-22 at the Millennium Stadium three years ago, then held them to a 29-29 draw 12 months later before losing the next three meetings in Sydney, Brisbane and Cardiff.
And Australia appear in the mood to continue that sequence, having beaten England, France and Italy on their current European tour. Reflecting on Wales' recent relative success in the fixture, Jones said: "I am not a big believer in past results - they are not going to have an effect on Saturday afternoon.
"It is going to be another tough day at the office. It will be 22 guys going out there with the last throw of the dice for the autumn. We expect everyone to front-up, like they have done."
Wales' autumn Tests to date are a painful story of what might have been. Forgetting a routine victory over Canada, Wales produced storming displays for half a game against South Africa and then New Zealand, but lost on each occasion.
Jones added: "We are certainly progressing and developing. If we can marry our first half against the All Blacks with our second half against South Africa, we will be right up there. That's the aim now, isn't it? We performed admirably for 40 minutes against New Zealand, but we need to start really squeezing these teams for 80 minutes."
Wales head coach Warren Gatland, meanwhile, has identified Wallabies playmaker Matt Giteau as the player his team must stop in their quest for an overdue Tri-Nations scalp. A week after Wales managed a reasonable containing job on New Zealand fly-half superstar Dan Carter, their task does not get any easier.
Giteau has shone throughout Australia's unbeaten European trip, guiding them to a biggest victory over England at Twickenham since 1984, while also helping to steer the Wallabies past France and Italy. He averages 15 points a Test during the last three games, and Gatland knows the Western Force fly-half is producing irresistible form on a weekly basis.
Gatland said: "When Dan Carter is on top of his game and dominating, the All Blacks get a flow, and it's the same with Australia and Giteau. They are very reliant on his kicking game, but also his running game. We've just got to make sure we shut down his space.
"He is deceptively strong in the tackle area, he runs nice lines and he knows when to take a gap. For me, those two (fly-half) positions the last couple of weeks have been pretty critical. We did a lot of work last week (on Carter), and it will be the same sort of approach this week in terms of trying to shut down Matt's game."
Gatland has made two changes to his team, with Scarlets wing Mark Jones replacing Cardiff Blues' teenage