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Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Rebuilt scrum 'can win it for Oz'

England prop Andrew Sheridan squares up to Australia's Matt Dunning
Harrison says Australia are over their scrummaging agonies of the past

Ex-Wallabies forward Justin Harrison has backed Australia to beat Wales on Saturday thanks to a rebuilt scrum.

The Green and Gold pack has creaked on recent visits to Cardiff, leading to defeat in 2005 and a draw a year later.

But Italy, England and France have lost to the 2008 Wallabies on their end-of-year tour and Harrison - now with Bath - thinks Wales will fall in Cardiff.

"When we struggled a lot of the boys doubted themselves," he told the BBC's Sport Wales programme.

606: DEBATE
"They started to believe what was written about them.

"It's also important to recognise that blokes like Al Baxter and Matt Dunning were both reasonably infant in their front-row experience.

"They were coming up against players in the northern hemisphere who have week-in, week-out contests in the front five that are of almost Test-standard intensity - particularly in the Heineken Cup and Guinness Premiership.

"We weren't being exposed to that level of intensity. In the Super 14 it was a hard competition, but set-piece-wise it wasn't a very good learning ground."

Current Wallabies prop Baxter has confessed that during their back-peddling days scrums were not a priority.

'The Plank' Justin Harrison squares up to Austin Healey on the 2001 Lions tour
I certainly expect a Wallaby win but I do expect it to be very, very close

Justin Harrison
He says: "At one stage we didn't even have a scrum coach. We just had our physio helping out with our scrums.

"As a former prop he knew what he was talking about, but his primary job was as our physio and not coaching.

"The emphasis for us back then was that the scrums were just a way of restarting [the game] and weren't a true contest in themselves."

But Harrison - who was infamously dubbed 'The Plank' by Austin Healey before helping the Wallabies clinch the 2001 Lions series - believes Australia have recovered under new coach Robbie Deans and adds:

"I certainly expect a Wallaby win but I do expect it to be very, very close.

"The Welsh are looking to put some consistent form together. They showed against South Africa they were able to out-muscle opponents and be very physical with a dominant pack.

"Then, against New Zealand, they showed patches when they were capable of releasing their back line. If they can get those two together on the one day, then it will be difficult for the Wallabies."

*See Justin Harrison on Sport Wales, BBC Two Wales & 2W, 2200-2230 GMT, Thursday, 27 November

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see also
Sport Wales: The TV programme
27 Oct 08 |  Wales
Scrum must 'step it up' - Mears
19 Nov 08 |  English
Wallabies change five for Wales
26 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Wales 9-29 New Zealand
22 Nov 08 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
Wallaby wonders: Aussie rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Australia: Full record
27 Sep 06 |  Rugby Union
Australia rugby songs
27 Sep 06 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
28 Oct 08 |  Wales
Coming up next on Scrum V...
27 Oct 08 |  Welsh


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