Why Wales will struggle against Wallabies on Saturday

CARDIFF: During three Tests in June against Fiji, Scotland and Italy, the Wallabies were well below their best.

Aside from being not being at their physical peak, across the board, in attack and defence, Australia were sluggish.

A new system - a word bandied about by modern rugby coaches - was still in its infancy and the back line combinations were clearly underdone.

Michael Cheika's men had a plan of attack but just couldn't execute it the way they wanted to.

Weeks upon weeks of training - related to both skills and fitness - in July and August before the Rugby Championship slowly but surely helped the Wallabies find their groove.

As the year went on, the juxtaposition between the fragmented, disorganised team that took the field in Sydney against Scotland to the one that beat the All Blacks in Brisbane was profound.

The Wallabies arrive in Britain having not lost a match since late August, against New Zealand in Dunedin.

By comparison, Wales haven't played a Test in 4?? months. In the previous eight months they've participated in just two.

Here's a statistic that proves why Wales are vulnerable: they have not won the opening Test of an Autumn series since 2002.

The closest they got in that period was a 29-all draw with Australia in 2006, while the win in 2002 came against Romania - hardly something to hang one's hat on.

There is no doubt Wales will have an uphill battle getting the better of Australia at Principality Stadium on Saturday given how easy it is to come into a Test season cold.

"June is a rusty time in the Southern Hemisphere," said Wallabies skills coach Mick Byrne. "It's a difficult time. You get all your systems together working and understanding. It's just getting the combinations working together. You came into the Rugby Championship and you're in together every week and you're working on the combinations."

Asked whether Wales could potentially face the some problems Australia did in June, Byrne replied: "I think so, but their forwards had a decent session against England, I hear. They've had a hit-out and are coming off a Lions series. It's competitive, physical rugby up here and they'll be well and truly ready to play."

Earlier in the week, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards praised the Wallabies, saying they were the best attacking team in the world from early-phase play.

There is no doubt Australia's attacking play has blossomed and they have scored the second-most points of any team in the world this year, averaging 34 points per match.

Byrne said it was nice to hear Edwards' comments but reiterated it wasn't something the group had thought about too much.

"It's pretty complimentary from Shaun, he's a world-class defence coach," Byrne said. "He does his work so it's a pretty complimentary statement but we just focus on getting through our work and doing the best we possibly can.

"Shaun has coached against a lot of sides but he's up against us this week. He may say the same in two weeks' time or he may say it the other way."

This story Why Wales will struggle against Wallabies on Saturday first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.