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Australia v Wales: Wales hope to avoid dark skies in Sydney

Australia v Wales: Wales hope to avoid dark skies in Sydney

The reunion of two grizzled Kiwi coaches leading different nations in Australia has added spice.

The pair are former team-mates, with Gatland admitting he thought Schmidt had retired after a stellar career.

Schmidt steered Ireland to the top of the world rankings and then helped the All Blacks make last year’s World Cup final, where they lost to South Africa.

He was appointed by Australia in January to rebuild the team in the wake of Jones’ turbulent tenure.

Schmidt has attempted to temper expectations by admitting “he had never been so unprepared”, conceding he is still getting to know some players having only met them 12 days before the Wales Test.

He has already put his imprint on the squad by picking only Australia-based players, with Will Skelton, Marika Koroibete and Samu Kerevi missing out, while Mark Nawaqanitawase and Carter Gordon have been lost to rugby league.

Gatland returned to Wales for a second stint as head coach when he replaced Wayne Pivac in December 2022.

After his first, 12-year period in charge yielded Six Nations and Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-final appearances, his second tenure has not gone as planned.

Second time around his record is only six wins and a worrying 13 defeats in 19 games, Gatland having inherited a squad that lost Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Ken Owens, George North, Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny and Louis Rees-Zammit.

Throw in Taulupe Faletau, Tomos Williams and Adam Beard, who are among the injury absentees for this tour, and Josh Adams, Will Rowlands and Ryan Elias, who have been rested, and you get the youthful and inexperienced Wales side that has travelled down under.