Pocock v Warburton excites McBryde
November 28, 2011
Sam Warburton was sent off in the Rugby World Cup semi-final against France in his latest outing for Wales © Getty Images
Wales forwards specialist Robin McBryde has billed a mouthwatering Millennium Stadium battle between Sam Warburton and David Pocock as one that "everyone is waiting for".
The rival openside flankers and breakdown specialists will go head to head when Wales tackle Australia next Saturday in a quickfire rematch following last month's World Cup bronze medal clash. Australia triumphed by three points on that occasion, but Wales skipper Warburton missed out due to suspension after he was sent off against semi-final opponents France six days earlier.
Warburton, though, is now back and ready to lead Wales in their final fixture of 2011 and last game before launching what should be a concerted Six Nations title bid next February.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get to see that head to head back in October," McBryde said. "It's one to watch, one that everyone is waiting for, really."
Pocock warmed up for his latest challenge by playing a starring role during Australia's 60-11 romp against an outclassed Barbarians outfit at Twickenham two days ago. And McBryde added: "He showed again in that game how potent he is at the breakdown area.
"He is never far away, and similarly with Sam. Sam made quite a name for himself at the World Cup, so I dare say he will be a marked man as well on Saturday. It will be a good battle between the two of them."
Wales coach Warren Gatland will name his starting line-up to face the Wallabies on Tuesday, with a minimum of three changes guaranteed from when the countries last met in Auckland 38 days ago.
Prop Paul James is injured, while half-backs James Hook and Mike Phillips are unavailable due to commitments with their respective French clubs Perpignan and Bayonne.
Prop Adam Jones and lock Alun-Wyn Jones also miss out because of injury, while the likes of centre Jamie Roberts, lock Luke Charteris and flanker Dan Lydiate are key players Gatland hopes can be declared fully fit.
Cardiff Blues prospect Lloyd Williams looks set to replace Phillips, with Rhys Priestland returning at fly-half, while Gatland could switch Gethin Jenkins from loosehead to tighthead prop, or possibly hand Ryan Bevington a start.
One name guaranteed to be on the team sheet, though, is that of diminutive wing Shane Williams, who makes his farewell Test match appearance in five days' time. It will be 34-year-old Williams' 87th and final Wales game during an international career that has seen him score a record 57 tries for his country.
"I can't speak highly enough of Shane and his contribution," McBryde said. "In many people's eyes he epitomises the bigger picture of Wales against all the other big nations, being the size he is and the never-say-die attitude that he possesses.
"The way he dances around bigger opponents, who are a bit leaden-footed around him, and some of the tries he has scored, only Shane can do things like that. Hopefully, we will give him a fitting sending-off.
"That's not just coming from the coaches, it is from the players as well. They will want to show their appreciation and allow the crowd to do the same. Being a one-off game, it's a different type of challenge for us next weekend.
"We've had two weeks to try to bed the new faces into the systems, patterns and calls. It's good to have a look at them as well and see where we are in terms of strength in depth.
"Australia showed what they can do on Saturday against the Barbarians, so we are going to have to be at our best. They counter-attacked really strongly and off-loaded well out of the tackle, and the breakdown was as competitive as you will see anywhere, really.
"I know the Barbarians fell away, but don't take that away from how well the Australians played. They had great continuity in their game.
"The threats they possess behind the scrum really came to the fore. And their front-five has developed into quite a unit. We are not expecting to be given anything at the scrum.
"We will have to work for everything. We will have a go at them, but they are quite a bit stronger as a front-five than people give them credit for."
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