'Hardest game' coming against desperate Wales

The Wallabies are in for the "hardest game of the tour" this week and must be more patient with possession if they are to beat a desperate Wales at Cardiff on Saturday, Adam Ashley-Cooper says.

The versatile back, an outstanding performer during Australia's lucky win over Italy in Florence, said the Wallabies would need to draw together all the lessons of their tests against France, England and Italy to beat a Welsh side stinging from six consecutive test losses.

"[It's] minor detail and fixing up set-piece ball and holding onto the ball. We've got a lot to work on and we probably need to step it up in those areas of the game if we want to get a good result against Wales," he said.

"They're going to throw everything at us – they've had some pretty tough losses so we're getting them at a desperate time. It's going to be our hardest game of the tour. If we recognise that, then take the intensity we did against the Italians in the first 20 minutes, it's going to make for a great game."

Ashley-Cooper rated the opening period of the clash in Florence as "one of the most physical games" he had ever played.

"They really threw it at us ... it was a lot of shots, a lot of intensity. We knew we were in for a long game; luckily for us we got the result in the end," he said.

Only just. The Wallabies' decision-making under pressure was exposed after more of the questionable kicking they had displayed in the final 15 minutes of the England test. Ashley-Cooper identified the weakness of set-piece play as the major patch-up job on the agenda in Cardiff this week.

"Set-piece ball is so important and you've really got to value the ball you get, but with us we had a couple of opportunities, we turned over a little bit at set-piece, [or] we may have won the ball at set-piece but we turned it over second-phase," he said.

"You keep these guys in the game within three or six points – they really get a heads up, they really get a sniff. I think for us more than anything it's patience, security [and] minor detail that we can really fix up leading in to [playing] Wales."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is yet to make a decision about calling for a back-up halfback, a team spokesman said, despite Brett Sheehan walking with crutches and in a cast-like "moon boot" on Sunday.

The 33-year-old veteran made a solid fist of his maiden test start before hobbling off, disgusted, with an injured ankle.

Prop Benn Robinson passed muster in medical tests after taking a bad knock to the back of his head and leaving the field in the second half, while David Pocock has completed two running sessions over the past few days and could finally be cleared to play this weekend. Kane Douglas remains in London with his family after his mother suffered a stroke.

Ashley-Cooper said the team had much to work on but was satisfied with notching back-to-back wins in the northern hemisphere. It may only be two in a row, but it is more than the team has managed since the June series against Wales.

"That was a big focus-point this week, to go back-to-back and really start to lay a foundation and start performing well consistently and putting more wins together," he said.

"We've set ourselves a little bit of a standard now and we need to do that next week. That consistency was won with character – there's a lot to take out of that and I'm proud to be a part of that win, there was a lot of character shown out there."

This story 'Hardest game' coming against desperate Wales first appeared on WA Today.