Wales’s tour of Australia continues in Canberra on Tuesday night when the reigning Six Nations champions take on the Brumbies.
It’s been some time since a touring international side has visited Canberra to play an ACT side. The last fixture was back in 2001 when the British & Irish Lions dropped by.
This will be the fourth time the Red Dragons have played an ACT side, although they did spend some time here during their 2003 World Cup campaign, and the ledger currently stands at two wins for the locals and one win for the visitors.
Wales’s first trip to Canberra in 1978 resulted in the ACT’s first-ever win over an international side when they defeated the then 5 Nations champions with a penalty goal in the dying minutes to record a 21-20 win.
The next trip to the capital was in 1991 and was played in atrocious conditions at Manuka Oval in a low-scoring affair. With players having difficulty identifying their own players in the bog, the visitors slogged out a 7-3 win.
The most recent fixture was way back in the ACT Brumbies’ inaugural year of 1996 and the locals ran riot in a 69-30 win. That match was also played in rain and a skinny Stephen Larkham announced his entry to international rugby with a dominant performance.
Wales have made a host of changes from their loss to the Wallabies for this match, with only lock Luke Charteris backing up from the Test starting XV. With a squad of nearly 40 players on this current tour you would expect that to be the case.
The big inclusion for Wales is Melbourne Rebels captain Gareth Delve, who was initially left out of the touring squad. A tour-ending injury to Toby Feletau in the first Test means Delve gets the call-up and will start this game from the bench.
A mention must also go to reserve Ian Evans who has arrived to join the squad after being married in Greece over the weekend.
The Brumbies have not played since their defeat of the Rebels 10 days ago and would head into this game fairly confident and refreshed after a few days away from training.
The squad assembled for this game should do well considering they have been training together since July of last year, and most of them have been playing together in the current Super Rugby season. They shouldn’t have any difficulty in bringing their Super game plan and form to the park.
Jake White has chosen to rest some of his front-line players and give some fringe players a shot at pushing for selection for the latter stages of the Super season. With Ben Mowen away with the Wallabies, lock Ben Hand takes over the captaincy duties.
With the ankle injury suffered by winger Joe Tomane during Wallabies training last week that will see him sidelined for up to 6 weeks, wingers Cam Crawford and Kimami Sitauti have the first crack at securing the open position, with flying winger Tom Cox on the bench.
The Brumbies have dipped into the local club competition to pick up two players in JP Pradaud (prop) and Beau Mokotupu (scrum half), both from the table-topping Tuggeranong Vikings, to fill the gaps on the bench.
Brumbies: 15. Robbie Coleman, 14. Cam Crawford, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Andrew Smith, 11. Kimami Sitauti, 10. Zack Holmes, 9. Ian Prior, 8. Ita Vaea, 7. Colby Faingaa, 6. Peter Kimlin, 5. Ben Hand (c), 4. Leon Power, 3. Scott Sio, 2. Anthony Hegarty, 1. Ruaidhri Murphy.
Res: 16. Siliva Siliva, 17. JP Pradaud, 18. Dylan Sigg, 19. Fotu Auelua, 20. Beau Mokotupu, 21. Tom Cox, 22. Jesse Mogg.
Wales: 15. Liam Williams, 14. Harry Robinson, 13. Andrew Bishop, 12. Ashley Beck, 11. Aled Brew, 10. James Hook, 9. Rhys Webb, 8. Aaron Shingler, 7. Justin Tipuric, 6. Josh Turnbull, 5. Luke Charteris, 4. Alun Wyn-Jones (c), 3. Rhodri Jones, 2. Richard Hibbard, 1. Paul James.
Res: 16. Ken Owens, 17. Rhys Gill, 18. Ian Evans, 19. Gareth Delve, 20. Lloyd Williams, 21. Rhys Priestland, 22. Alex Cuthbert.
This match will be on Tuesday night at Canberra Stadium with kick off at 7:30 pm.
Please note: this match will NOT be broadcast on TV, but will be covered by ABC Grandstand in Canberra on the wireless or if the technology Gods are smiling, Twitter may be another source of updates.
Referee: Ian Smith
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees, Will Houston.