World Cup trial for Wallabies
World Cup trial for WallabiesSHARE
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie sees their clash against Wales at the Millenium Stadium this weekend as ideal preparation for the World Cup in 2015.
It will be their 15th and final Test match of a gruelling year, and McKenzie is anxious to prove that they can finish strong, just as they will need to do if they are to challenge for the Webb Ellis Cup in two years time.
Australia have Wales and England in their pool for the global showpiece event, and having lost to England at Twickenham earlier this month they will be desperate to strike a psychological blow against Six Nations champions Wales.
It will be the fifth Test of their year-end tour, which suits McKenzie perfectly as it will give him an indication of whether his team have the stamina to finish a World Cup campaign on top of their game.
"You are getting towards what you need to do to play a World Cup over here, play five hard Tests in a row," McKenzie told AAP.
"Five weeks in a row at a big venue, big games, knockout – the way it lines up for me if you were playing a final this would be it."
The Wallabies coach is also pushing for a similar schedule in November next year, as he does his best to prepare his side for the rigours of a World Cup campaign in the northern hemisphere.
At this stage it looks likely that they will face both England and Wales again next year, as well as Ireland, France and another Test side on top of some midweek matches.
This approach appears to be in contrast to other southern hemisphere nations such as New Zealand and South Africa who have serious concerns about player welfare and the possibility of burn-out.
However, this is not a concern for McKenzie, who would prefer to build depth by playing as many tough games as possible. His team have steadily improved throughout their European tour, and he has challenged them to end it with their best performance yet.
"You have to front up so it's not a time to be talking about rest and recovery," he said. "As I said to the guys, you want to breast the line; you don't want to wind down.
"You need to go hard and that's where this five-week campaign is at. The World Cup is even longer (at seven weeks) so it's even more of a mental challenge," he said.
The last time Australia won four games on a year-end tour was in 1996, and victory over Wales would also see McKenzie's record as coach break even at won six and lost six, so there will be plenty of motivation for them to end on a high.
The Wallabies coach is expected to name his strongest possible team with those implicated in a midweek drinking session in Dublin all having served their internal suspensions.