Valetini's Wallabies looking to go out with a bang against 'battered' Wales

·3-min read

Influential skipper Michael Hooper might be absent, but Australia will seek to end their autumn tour on a high against a "battered and bruised" Wales missing 20 frontline players through injury.

James Slipper will captain the Wallabies at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff in Hooper's absence through injury on the back of two disappointing losses to Scotland (15-13) and England (32-15).

Under no illusion of how big a loss Hooper was in Australia's bid to avoid a first winless autumn tour of Europe since 1976 was Rob Valetini.

"'Hoops' is a massive loss," the Brumbies No. 8 said on Tuesday.

"He's our captain, but he's probably the biggest workhorse in our team.

"He never stops and that's something that the team will miss."

Valetini was one of the few stand-out performers for Australia in their defeat by England -- in which they gave away 18 penalties, crediting Hooper with helping him translate his Super Rugby form onto the international arena.

"At the start of the year, in Tests, I probably wasn't finding my rhythm and getting into it - I was probably a bit nervous about starting and trying to replicate a good Super season," he said.

"But then I had a chat with 'Hoops' and he said to me: 'Just don't hold back, just let everything go and play your game'.

"It just sort of happened and I started playing decent rugby."

Valetini said the focus was now on a Welsh side who were hammered by New Zealand (54-16), lost to South Africa (23-18) and made hard work of 14-man Fiji to eventually come out unconvincing 38-23 winners.

"It's a new week this week and we want to end the tour on a high so we will prepare well and hopefully go out with a bang on Saturday," he said.

- 'A lot of positives' -

Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys admitted the home side go into their fourth match of the Autumn Nations Series campaign riddled with injuries to a raft of frontline players.

It was "unlikely", Humphreys said, that lock Will Rowlands and prop WillGriff John would be fit by the weekend.

First-choice tighthead Tomas Francis is following return-to-play concussion protocols while winger Josh Adams (calf) and No. 8 Aaron Wainwright (shoulder) are both being monitored.

"There is a team here who are battered and bruised off the back of the most challenging autumn that they have ever had," the former Wales hooker and captain said on Tuesday.

"We are just thinking about how we get the tank off empty to put up a show against Australia and go and win that game."

Humphreys was adamant the extended injury list had not been "frustrating", insisting there had been "a lot of positives".

"Clearly, we would have wanted more people available to us," he said, with Wales bidding for a third successive victory over Australia.

"But from my point of view it has turned out very similar to the last autumn, where we found out a lot about people... (this campaign) has been brilliant for us in terms of finding out about people who can add to our depth.

"The tanks right now are low, but I know that come the weekend we are going to be right and we are going to be ready for the fight, which it is going to be, against one of the best teams in the world."


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