Josh Macleod believes Wales are ready for Australia’s challenge after some “very honest” talks following a humiliating defeat by Georgia.
Wales will end an international year marked by defeats at home by Georgia and Italy by beating the Wallabies for the fourth time in a row on Saturday.
But the squad, head coach Wayne Pivac and his staff are under enormous pressure after a result that Wales skills specialist Neil Jenkins described as one of his country’s darkest days.
Macleod made his Test debut in the 13-12 loss and is likely to be involved again in Wales’ match day 23 v Australia.
Pivac names his team on Thursday, with a possible recall for world record holder Alun Wyn Jones, who is leading that selection.
And number eight, Taulupe Faletau, is close to making his 100th appearance for Wales and the British and Irish Lions as Pivac will rely heavily on his experience.
Six expected starters – Jones, Faletau, full-back Leigh Halfpenny, center George North, hooker Ken Owens and captain Justin Tipuric – have amassed a combined 626 caps in Wales.
However, Wales have won just three games from 11 starts this year and even a win against an injury-plagued Australia might not be enough for Pivac to survive.
But there’s also a sharp spotlight on Welsh rugby union bosses who, with just 10 months to go before a World Cup, must decide whether a change of coach is the right answer.
Wales reported on the Georgia debacle on Monday, with Scarlets forward Macleod saying: “They (talks) have been very honest.
“It was a good day and we took a lot with us. I think we’ve wiped that slate clean and now we’re pushing really hard on Australia.
“As a team we were massively frustrated and disappointed with the overall result but as Toby (Faletau) mentioned after the game we will stick together – management, players and staff.
“We put Georgia to bed with all the disappointment and we will go into this week with a positive attitude.
“Of course everyone says that there will be a reaction after such a defeat. Next Saturday I’m sure everyone who takes the field will be ready.”
Macleod’s first cap was the only feel-good story for Wales as Georgia took center stage in Cardiff.
He had been selected for Wales’ Six Nations game against Scotland last year but tore his Achilles tendon during a training session four days before the game.
He was also selected for the Wales 2020 autumn squad but a hamstring injury ruled him out of that season.
“It’s been a tough time since the last call. I was just glad to get that monkey off my back,” Macleod added.
“I’ve changed my routine a little bit – more recovery, a little less weight – and I try to be in the training park as much as possible because I find that builds a bit of resilience to all those little things and whatnot.
“I’ve never had any physical problems getting back into shape after an injury and from a rehab perspective.
“I’ve had a lot of bad luck with injuries in the past, but it was always an isolated case, then rehab and then you’re back on the pitch.
“But these hits coming together virtually makes you feel a little bit disconnected from the lads because you’re constantly rehab and you’re never on the training ground.
“Mentally that was the hardest part for me but luckily we’re over it now.”