Planet Rugby

Cuthbert boost "massive" for Gatland

27th November 2013 06:27


alex cuthbert wales v england 2013

Finisher: Alex Cuthbert

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has described the return of wing Alex Cuthbert as "massive" ahead of facing Australia.

Cuthbert has been out with ankle injury sustained playing for Cardiff Blues against Toulon in the Heineken Cup in October.

The odds of Cuthbert partcipating in the November Tests were considered to be slim, but the 23-year-old - who has nine tries in 18 Tests - came through Monday's training session unscathed and will now line up face the Wallabies on Saturday.

"His return is massive. The medical team have done a good job getting him back," Gatland told WalesOnline.

"We had him training last week and the idea was just to get him through. He took a full part in Monday's session, so we were confident he was going to be fit.

"He hasn't had a lot of training but he's a great athlete. The thing about Cuthbert is he's a try scorer. He goes looking for the ball and things seem to happen around him.

"He's got a pretty good strike rate in terms of his tries for us and he tends to get a lot of touches.

"We try to work for our wingers to get 15 touches in a game and his numbers always seem to be up around that mark.

"If he does get that sort of number of touches in a game, there's a good chance he's going to be pretty near the try line."

Gatland also stated that there had been no discussion of the British and Irish Lions' success against Australia in the build-up to this weekend's fixture against the Wallabies - as Wales look for a first win against Ewen McKenzie's side since 2008.

"We haven't even spoken about that and it's gone. Australia are a completely different side to the one we met in June," added Gatland.

"There has been no mention of the Lions by us, and I am pretty sure the Australians haven't mentioned it either.

"In fact we haven't spoken about them because there is a lot of confidence in our side in terms of our own ability.

"With Australia, there are also a lot of key players for them who have been regulars who aren't playing on Saturday. So it's quite different to what we've faced in the past.

"I don't think they played particularly well in the first three or four games after the Lions but they look a lot more settled now.

"They made a number of changes against Scotland and were good enough to win, and were excellent against Ireland the week before.

"So I think they are getting some rhythm in their team. They have some game-breakers back and we know it's going to be tough. It's a great challenge for us and something to look forward to.

"They have some real quality players in their team but so have we. For each of us, it's a game to look forward to in terms of world-class players on the field. Hopefully the two sides are going to go with the attitude of trying to play some quality rugby."

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