Rob Howley Tells Wales To Move On From Aaron Wainwright Injury Blow – Dai Sport

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By David Williams

Wales have suffered a huge blow – the loss of number eight Aaron Wainwright – ahead of Saturday’s second Test against Australia in Melbourne.

Wainwright, who won his 50th cap when Wales went down to a 25-16 defeat in the series opener last weekend, suffered a leg injury and was forced off during the closing stages.

His absence is a major setback for Wales head coach Warren Gatland, who has overseen eight successive Test defeats.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said. “He was outstanding (in the first Test). His carries, his footwork, he got us on the front foot on many occasions.

“I think you trust the squad. We’ve picked them to come here and give them an experience of Test match rugby.

“If one of them is unfortunate not to be available for selection, we back whoever will step in.

“Over the period of time in the Six Nations, we’ve made changes. Self-belief and confidence is huge when there’s a lack of experience because of age.

“At 22 or 23, you give them that opportunity to go out and perform. There’s a balance, but hopefully the players are available and we have a consistent selection because it’s a short tour.”

Wales have not won a Test match since beating 2023 World Cup pool-stage opponents Georgia, and Gatland’s team are edging closer to the record run of 10 losses in 2002 and 2003 when his fellow New Zealander Steve Hansen held the coaching reins.

Full-back Liam Williams, wing Josh Hathaway and prop Gareth Thomas also suffered knocks during the Sydney encounter, with Gatland likely to name his starting line-up on Thursday.

“Liam Williams hopefully will be available for selection. We are waiting on him,” Howley added.

“Gareth Thomas had a bit of a dead leg, he was back in training today. Josh Hathaway is being monitored, he took a bump on his arm.

“In terms of those players coming off, fingers crossed they will be available for selection. Everyone is hugely motivated.”

The Sydney setback was Wales’ 12th defeat in a row against the Wallabies on Australian soil, having not won there since 1969.

But it looks as though Gatland will keep changes to a minimum unless his hand is forced by injuries.

“It is an important game,” Howley said. “There is huge disappointment and frustration within the camp. We want to give the best version of ourselves.

“It is about how you come out of a Test match when you have lost.

“I thought we really did well to come back into the game at 18-16. We can talk about the experience and the learning, of course we can, but we need to start winning Test matches.

“I think from a coach’s perspective, you trust players. You have to trust the process.

“We all talk about those one per cents and fine margins. Every second, every one minute matters in an international game, and the ability to stay focused and to concentrate.

“Unfortunately for us there were too many moments where we had the opportunity, yet we weren’t able to execute under pressure.

“Through training and backing our players, keeping on our process, we hope at some point through that experience of these players playing more international games that we will get over the line.

“We have to keep knocking the door, keep working hard and keep believing.”

Veteran prop James Slipper is set to resume the Wallabies captaincy from Liam Wright for the second Test.

Australia coach Joe Schmidt will name his team in Melbourne on Thursday but the expectation is that Wright – who led the Wallabies to a 25-16 victory in his first Test in charge – will not feature in the 23.

Brumbies star Charlie Cale, who made his debut off the bench in Sydney, was expected to come into the loose forward trio for his first Test start with Slipper taking the leadership reins.

Read our most recent DS stories on “Wales Australia”

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