Wales aim to give Aussie legend a losing send-off
WALES v AUSTRALIA (Saturday, KO 2.30)
AUSTRALIA played the role of party poopers last time they were in Cardiff and lock Luke Charteris hopes that Wales can reverse the roles on Saturday afternoon.
The Wallabies triumphed at the Millennium Stadium last December with Shane Will-iams’ last-gasp try merely reducing the deficit on his international farewell.
This time it will be an Aussie great putting on his boots for the last time.
Lock Nathan Sharpe answered an SOS to be a part of Australia’s European tour, but Saturday’s cap, his 116th, will be his last.
Charteris is full of admiration for the 34-year-old but denies that the Wallabies will have extra motivation to send him off with a win.
“Is it his last game this time? He’s retired a few times and keeps coming back!” joked the former Newport Gwent Dragons captain.
“I’ve been lucky enough to go up against him a few times and he is a quality player.
“He really is one of the standout second rows of the last 10 or 15 years and if this is his last game then he has certainly earned his rest.
“I don’t think it provides Australia with any extra motivation; everyone goes out to win if it’s their first game or their last.
“When it was Shane’s last game Australia still managed to win even though we wanted to send him out on a high, as I am sure they will Nathan.
“Little things like that don’t really come into it – it’s a Test between two countries.”
Wales are striving for their first win against Australia since December 2008. And since losing to the Wallabies in the World Cup third/fourth position playoff, they have been beaten in four further showdowns.
Charteris believes their recent record doesn’t do justice to the tight nature of their clashes.
“The games have been pretty close yet it’s 5-0 to Aus-tralia,” said the 29-year-old. “We know that we are capable of beating them it is just making sure we nail the little moments that have cost us.
“We are two teams that are evenly matched and if you look at the aggregate score (Australia 117, Wales 97) you would think it would be 3-2.
“That’s a complement to them because they are very clinical when it comes to scoring opportunities but it’s also down to a bit of naivety on our part and not learning the lessons.”