Jonathan Davies predicts three Wales autumn Tests wins
WALES V ARGENTINA
- Venue: Millennium Stadium Cardiff
- Date: Saturday, 10 November
- Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & online; live on S4C; live commentary on BBC Radio Wales & online; live commentary on Radio Cymru
Jonathan Davies and Martyn Williams are backing Wales to win three of their four autumn Tests in Cardiff.
The Welsh legends fear World Cup holders New Zealand will prove too strong on 24 November.
But they believe coaches Robert Howley and Warren Gatland's sides will begin by beating Argentina and Samoa before finishing the autumn with victory against Australia on 1 December.
Wales' autumn series
- Argentina (10 Nov, 14:30 GMT)
- Samoa (16 Nov, 19:30 GMT)
- New Zealand (24 Nov, 17:15 GMT)
- Australia (1 Dec, 14:30 GMT)
*All matches at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
"If we play well I think we'll win three from four, said Davies.
"But if we don't play well and don't have a platform in our line-out and scrum then there are banana skins - the first two [Argentina and Samoa]."
Davies, the Scrum V pundit and former Wales dual-code star, feels the All Blacks are unlikely to slip to their first defeat against Wales since 1953.
But despite Wales being without back-rower Ryan Jones for the Argentina match and the absences through injury of tight-head prop Adam Jones and flanker Dan Lydiate, Davies believes Wales have the players to succeed.
"Looking at the squad, they're capable of beating Australia, Argentina and Samoa, but New Zealand are head and shoulders above everyone else at the moment," said Davies.
"But by then injuries and form will have worked itself out, but Wales are at a level where we have to play well."
Williams, who retired from Test rugby in Wales' June win over the Barbarians in Cardiff, admits Wales are likely to take time to perform at their best during the series.
Jonathan Davies Scrum V pundit
“Looking at the squad, they're capable of beating Australia, Argentina and Samoa”
He fears the Pumas and Samoa will prove difficult hurdles to overcome.
"We're usually slow starters in the autumn so it's about getting those two wins under your belt and we know New Zealand at the moment are head and shoulders [better], but we've run them close a few times at home.
"But like Jonathan said, I think this side will be looking to win three out of the four, but next week is a huge game against Argentina."
The final game of the series, againt Australia on 1 December, falls outside the agreed International Rugby Board window for autumn Test matches.
An agreement between Wales' four rugby regions means all their players will be available to Gatland, who will coach the team against the Wallabies and All Blacks.
But Gatland could be without French-based players Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins and James Hook.
Luke Charteris' release from Perpignan has, however, been agreed for the game against the Wallabies in return for the French club having his services when Wales take on Argentina.
Gatland's job as coach of the 2013 British and Irish Lions to Australia means his Wales role has been curtailed to Wales' biggest autumn games.
That gives Howley the chance to continue the caretaker role he first undertook in June, following a domestic accident in which Gatland badly injured his heels, as he guides Wales against Argentina and Samoa.
Gatland made it to Australia for Wales' 3-0 Test series whitewash by the Wallabies, but in an advisory capacity to Howley, who will also coach Wales in the New Zealander's Lions absence during the 2013 Six Nations.
Wales squad for autumn Tests:
Backs: L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Liam Williams (Scarlets); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets), H Robinson (Cardiff Blues); A Beck (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), J Hook (Perpignan), R Priestland (Scarlets); T Knoyle (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues).
Forwards: S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), R Bevington (Ospreys), P James (Bath), A Jarvis (Ospreys), G Jenkins (Toulon), S Lee (Scarlets); R Hibbard (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), M Rees (Scarlets); B Davies (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Perpignan), I Evans (Ospreys), AW Jones (Ospreys); T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), R Jones (Ospreys), R McCusker (Scarlets), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt).