Baptism of fire for Wales' late call-up Lou Reed
IT WAS a case of the same old miserable story for many of the Wales players slump-ed on the Millennium Stadium turf as they waited for an Australian conversion that didn’t matter.
The 14-12 defeat was the latest in a frustrating line of sob stories against the Wallabies, whose Cardiff success made it six Test wins in just over a year against Warren Gatland’s men.
But it was a new experience for Cardiff Blues lock Lou Reed, who only learned he was starting against the Australians when Ian Evans pulled out on Friday evening because of a knee problem.
Reed, 25, was running on empty by the time Kurtley Beale crossed for the match-winner and, physically drained, he had to be helped up and down a small flight of stairs after the game.
“The physicality and everything about Test rugby is incredible,” said the second-rower, who won a second cap to add to the one he earned off the bench in the closing stages against Scotland in last season’s Six Nations.
“Everyone always says it’s a step up but you think it can’t be too different... it is.
“I think it’s the emotional strain of playing for your country as well as the physical side of things.
“I was happy I was called in the night before rather than the whole week so that I didn’t have too much time to think about it. It was much better to be chucked in at the deep end – it could be ropey if I get selected again with a week to go “I’m glad it was an afternoon kick-off because any longer would have been a right old strain.
“I got chucked in on Friday and I think that I did what I was told to do – Warren said to win lineout ball, compete in scrum, carry ball, hit rucks and that’s what I did.
“The first ten minutes was emotional but I settled in, hopefully I’ve done enough for them to keep me in mind for the Six Nations.”
Another player who has grown from being flung in at the deep end is tighthead Scott Andrews, who was solid on just his second start.
The Cardiff Blues prop did well after being called from the bench in the second minute against New Zealand and he put in another good shift against the Wallabies.
Andrews has responded to a fair few doubters over the past fortnight, but after the game he was understandably more concerned with Wales suffering another heartbreaking loss.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” said the 23-year-old. “We worked so hard for 79 minutes and felt we were in control; it’s a sickener.
“The big picture was disappointing this autumn, especially the way it ended against Australia, but I went from not being involved to being on the bench to having a start.
“That was quite pleasing and I have to fight for a place at the Blues and hopefully be involved in the Six Nations.”