Josh Adams: Wales wing swaps fan seat for a starting spot v Australia

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales
Josh Adams
Josh Adams played in both of Wales' wins in Argentina in June, scoring a try in the second Test

When Wales last played Australia, Josh Adams was sat in the stands as a fan at the Principality Stadium.

When the two sides renew their rivalry on Saturday, he will be in the thick of it - starting on the wing, opposite the great Wallaby back Israel Folau.

"It's a bit surreal," Adams says.

"Twelve months ago watching it as a spectator and now I'm getting an opportunity as a player. I'm looking forward to it."

It has been a transformative year for Adams, who started it in prolific form for his club side Worcester but still passed under the radar for many followers of Welsh rugby.

There was a sense of being out of sight, out of mind for the 23-year-old from Hendy, near Llanelli, who had started his career with the Scarlets but left Wales after failing to secure a contract with the region.

Adams joined Worcester in 2015 and, after a hardy apprenticeship including a loan with lower-league club Cinderford, he eventually forced himself into the first team.

He seized his opportunity by finishing 2017 as the Premiership's top try scorer, and his reward was a place in Wales' squad for this year's Six Nations, starting in the opening win over Scotland.

"Obviously with your first cap there's a lot of feelings flying around nerves, excitement and whatnot," he says.

"Even when you're driving to the game as a spectator you can feel a bit of a buzz about it because it is a special place when it's full.

"So it's something I'm looking forward to doing again, and hopefully we can get the right result this weekend."

Saturday's match against Australia will only be Adams' second appearance for Wales at home and fifth in total.

Two of those caps came on the summer tour of Argentina, in which Wales won both matches with Adams scoring an excellent first try for his country in the second Test.

That form has convinced Wales head coach Warren Gatland to pick Adams ahead of British and Irish Lion Liam Williams for the encounter with Australia.

"It's great to hear he thought I went well in the summer," Adams says.

"I thought as a squad we did really well in Argentina to get two tough wins out there, and the boys who played in Washington did really well to beat South Africa as well.

"As a tour, it was positive. I think we created some depth with inexperienced boys playing and, off the back of that now, a few have had another opportunity this autumn as well."

Facing Folau

George North picks up Israel Folau
George North hoisting Israel Folau was an abiding image of the Lions' tour win in Australia in 2013

After their opening win over Scotland last weekend, the intensity will increase for Wales on Saturday when they take on Australia.

The Wallabies have won the past 13 meetings between the two sides, a sequence of results stretching back to 2008.

One of Wales' chief tormentors in recent years has been Folau, a prodigiously skilful back who has played the majority of his Test career at full-back, spent some time at centre in the summer but finds himself on the right wing this weekend.

That pits him directly against Adams.

George North, on Wales' other wing, found a novel way of combating Folau's threat during the Lions' victorious tour of Australia in 2013.

The Welshman was actually in possession when Folau tried to tackle him, only for the Wallaby to find himself lifted in the air by North, who marched onwards carrying his opponent like a rucksack.

"I'm nowhere near the size of George so I don't think I'll be carrying Israel Folau on my back this weekend," Adams says with a laugh.

"He's a top quality player. I know his threats, we know his threats. He's proven time and time again at international level how good he is.

"It will be a test for me but it's something I'm looking forward to. It's a good opportunity for me to see where I'm at, playing against probably one of the world's best wingers."

It will be a formidable test for Wales as a collective too.

Less than a year before the World Cup begins, this would be a good time to end their losing run against an Australian side who will be in their pool in Japan next year.

"It's been very close so often and I just think it's small margins, maybe not concentrating for the full 80 minutes, maybe a slip in concentration in the last five minutes," says Adams.

"So it's a big emphasis on a big 80-minute performance this weekend. I think the feeling around the place is good at the minute.

"We've had six wins on the bounce and a hit-out in the autumn already. Obviously we've got to respect Australia - it's going to be a tough match without a doubt, and I'm sure they're expecting the same."

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