Australia v Wales: Gatland’ side aim to level series in Melbourne

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When Steve Hansen suffered a then eighth record defeat as Wales head coach during his time in charge in 2003, he proclaimed he could not give two hoots about his own legacy.

This Wales side have not won a Test match since they defeated World Cup pool opponents Georgia nine months ago in Nantes.

They have lost eight successive internationals, something they have not suffered since the barren period between 2012 and 2013 when Gatland and Rob Howley took turns as head coach.

Since Gatland returned to replace Wayne Pivac in December 2022, he has won six out of 20 games with 14 defeats.

Compare this to Pivac paying the price for losing nine out of his last 12 matches, which included home defeats against Italy and Georgia.

In March, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) indicated that despite a first Six Nations bottom place finish for 21 years, they will stick by Gatland.

The New Zealander himself says he hopes the Welsh public can see what he is trying to do by building a new side for the next World Cup in 2027.

There are extenuating circumstances because Wales have lost a lot of players in the last year. Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, Ken Owens, George North, Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny have all retired.

Taulupe Faletau, Tomos Williams, Adam Beard and Elliot Dee were injured for this tour, while Josh Adams, Ryan Elias and Will Rowlands were rested for the summer.

So it is a new-look inexperienced and unproven Wales side that Gatland now has at his disposal as he tries to bring the best out of them.

Gatland will know a victory in Melbourne is essential to avoid a ninth consecutive defeat and help ease pressure on him and his side.

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