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Wales vs Australia: Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones have been there, seen it, and done it… the veteran coaches will go head-to-head again at the World Cup, with so much again on the line


They are two old dogs of war, veteran coaches with the experience of 10 World Cups who are preparing to do battle for the seventh time on Sunday night. 

Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones have both been there, seen it, and done it. The current head-to-head score reads Jones 4-2 Gatland from six encounters to date. 

The former should be confident of narrowing his deficit by one on Sunday evening. ‘In a strange way, we’re probably both going through the same things,’ said Gatland this week, referring to the similarities he currently shares with his long-term adversary Jones. 

It was a perceptive comment. Both coaches have been parachuted into this World Cup at the 11th hour and are planning for the future with young players across their respective squads.

Gatland and Jones do indeed share some current bonds. But at the same time, they are also in very different places right now. Gatland’s Wales have two wins and some confidence behind them. Jones and Australia are all at sea. 

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (pictured) will go head-to-head with Eddie Jones once again

The duo will face off when Jones’ (left) Australia take on Gatland’s Wales at the World Cup

Jones is under pressure amid Australia’s loss to Fiji and his side must win to stand a realistic chance of qualifying from their Pool

It will make for an intriguing battle when the two sides meet in Lyon on Sunday evening with World Cup quarter-final spots on the line. Australia must not lose. Wales will reach the last eight with a win. The latter of those scenarios would only serve to heap yet more pressure on Jones, who is already fighting for his life with the Wallabies. 

Jones has fired plenty of shots this week despite winning just one of seven games since returning to Australian rugby’s top job. ‘You get more people when they smell blood,’ he said addressing a packed press conference room. 

MATCH FACTS 

Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Adams; Biggar, Davies; G Thomas, Elias, Francis, Rowlands, Beard, Wainwright, Morgan (capt), Faletau Replacements: Dee, Domachowski, H Thomas, Jenkins, Basham, T Williams, Anscombe, Dyer

Australia: Kellaway; Nawaqanitawase, Petaia, Kerevi, Koroibete; Donaldson, McDermott; Bell, Porecki (capt), Slipper, Frost, Arnold, Leota, Hooper, Valetini Replacements: Faessler, Schoupp, Fa’amausili, Philip, McReight, White, Gordon, Vunivalu.

Kick-off: 8pm tomorrow (SUN) Venue: OL Stadium, Lyon Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Jones added he had ‘let Australian rugby down’ since going back to the southern hemisphere after his sacking by England last December. 

Jones said he had ‘no doubt’ Australia will beat Wales. Both he and Gatland have always been media masters. They know which buttons to push in the press and with their teams. 

The pair both boast proud records. There can be no doubting their abilities. But, ahead of their 2023 meeting, you could make a very good argument to say that while Gatland’s methods are still working, Jones is struggling to produce the goods. His insatiable work ethic, 4am messages to his coaching assistants and at times enormous demands on his staff, can produce a short-term response. But in the long run, the results have been there for all to see. 

Jones burned through staff members with England, many of whom were unable to handle him. Gatland, meanwhile, blends hard work on the field with a family-first approach off it. That has always been his mantra – one which is popular with everyone who works under him. 

‘He has a laugh and a joke sometimes and when it comes down to work, you just work,’ said Wales full-back Liam Williams of his experience under Gatland. ‘That is what we have done for the last six months and every time I have worked under Warren. Many years ago, he knew how to press the right button to get a reaction and get me playing well. He just used to blank me! It used to really get on my nerves.

‘If I played well, I would be walking past him with a big smile on my face and he would just walk past me. It would really get me annoyed. 

Wales full-back Liam Williams spoke highly of Gatland’s ability to get a reaction out of him

Both coaches were called in late to help their sides at the tournament, and Wales have started well in France

‘Then I would train in the week, work my nuts off, and play well again. He would say: “I knew you would play well this week”. It’s little things like that. 

‘Being one of the older heads now, he doesn’t need to press buttons. I think he does with a couple of the younger boys. He knows what ones to press to get the best out of them.’ 

Whatever Gatland is doing behind the scenes, it is working. He has achieved one of his stated aims in putting pride back in the Wales shirt at what is his record fifth World Cup. 

Gatland has a record 16 global showpiece wins on his coaching CV. Jones is one behind but he has only ever lost four World Cup games and two of those are the 2003 and 2019 finals. 

Jones is taking all the heat for Australia’s current struggles, rightly to a degree. He hasn’t helped himself with press conference outbursts and team selection. But his players, while young on the whole, are also underperforming. Wales, rightly, are favourites on Sunday night. 

Jones has taken the brunt of the criticism, highlighted by his back-and-forth with the media this week

Australia have one win and one win from their two games so far and have been far from their best at the tournament

Gatland vs Jones – head-to-head 

12/3/2016: England 25-21 Wales (Twickenham) – Winner: Jones 

29/5/2016: England 27-13: Wales (Twickenham) – Winner: Jones 

10/2/2018: England 12-6 Wales (Twickenham) – Winner: Jones 

23/2/2019: Wales 21-13 England (Principality Stadium) – Winner: Gatland 

11/8/2019: England 33-19 Wales (Twickenham) – Winner: Jones 

17/8/2019: Wales 13-6 England (Principality Stadium) – Winner: Gatland

They have an experienced spine to their team – many of whom were rested for the round two win over Portugal – and a smattering of youthful exuberance. 

Gatland has two bonus-point wins already in the bag. Australia, meanwhile, face close-to-certain World Cup elimination if they are beaten by Wales. It would cause uproar in the country. 

No Australian team has ever failed to make it out of the pool stages at a World Cup. Jones has lost Will Skelton and Taniela Tupou to injury and dropped his only specialist No 10 in Carter Gordon. And yet for all his supposed flaws, you can never write off a Jones side. 

‘We will put our hands up, we got spooked,’ said Australia’s veteran prop James Slipper of his team’s 22-15 defeat by Fiji – a loss which saw Jones take pelters from all corners. 

‘I thought we didn’t match the physicality in the game at all. The mindset wasn’t right. We were one second late, one second too slow. I tell you now, the Welsh will be sitting there looking at that. 

‘It’s one of those things we’ve got to get right.’ 

Gatland knows what to expect from a Jones side on the whole, but the loss of power with Skelton’s and Tupou’s injuries is likely to change the way Australia play. 

It promises to be tight and frantic with Wales looking to dominate the territory and kicking battles. Should Dan Biggar edge his No 10 clash with Gordon’s replacement Ben Donaldson, Wales should be hopeful of coming out on top. It would send them to the last eight and leave Jones in meltdown. 

Gatland to win the pair’s latest renewal, but only narrowly. 

Wales will look to dominates the territory and kicking battles but Australia will have other ideas

Gatland’s side are favourites to win the bout, but it will be hard-fought and is difficult to predict

Wales vs Australia: Three head-to-head battles

Gareth Thomas vs James Slipper 

With giant Australian tighthead prop Taniela Tupou injured, the hugely experienced Slipper switches across the scrum to loosehead. 

Slipper has 132 Wallaby caps, but he normally operates in the No 1 jersey. He is starting with the No 3 on his back for only the fourth time in Lyon. 

Tupou – as well as captain Will Skelton – are huge losses for Australia. 

Wales loosehead Thomas will hope he can give Slipper a good working over in his unusual position. Wales’ scrum went well against Fiji.

Dan Biggar vs Ben Donaldson 

Australia head coach Jones has sprung a surprise by naming the only specialist No 10 in his World Cup squad on the bench. Carter Gordon has been dropped and will start as a replacement with Ben Donaldson beginning at fly-half. 

Wales figurehead Dan Biggar will play a key role as playmaker for the Welsh side, and brings experience with him

Louis Rees-Zammit (pictured), meanwhile, is another one to watch for Wales, and will go head-to-head with Nawaqanitawase in the battle of the wingers

It is a huge call from Jones. Donaldson has just five caps to his name and is not accomplished in the playmaker position. Wales figurehead Biggar is. With 110 Welsh caps to his name, he also at the other end of the experience spectrum to his opposite man and will want to make that knowhow count.

Louis Rees-Zammit vs Mark Nawaqanitawase 

Josh Adams is technically Australian right wing Nawaqanitawase’s opposite number. But when it comes to the battle of the wingers in Lyon on Sunday, all eyes will be on Rees-Zammit and Nawaqanitawase. 

In what has been a tricky time for Australian rugby since the return of Jones, Nawaqanitawase has been a bright spark with his tries and pace a real danger. He and Rees-Zammit are the sorts of players fans pay to watch. The Welshman has two tries from two games in the World Cup so far.

The post Wales vs Australia: Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones have been there, seen it, and done it… the veteran coaches will go head-to-head again at the World Cup, with so much again on the line appeared first on Golden Sports News.



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Wales vs Australia: Warren Gatland and Eddie Jones have been there, seen it, and done it… the veteran coaches will go head-to-head again at the World Cup, with so much again on the line

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