Back injury rules out captain Jones

On the face of it, Wales could have done without losing captain Ryan Jones to a back injury ahead of this evening's contest with Australia, just as the tourists could have done without messing up in Dublin and Edinburgh en route to Cardiff.

Yet Jones' absence will allow Wales to ask some serious questions of themselves, and if they come up with the right answers they could end the autumn better placed than any of their British Isles rivals.

The withdrawal of the Ospreys No 8 means a second start for the Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate, who occupies the blind-side berth with Andrew Powell switching position. "We think Dan has all the tools," said Robbie McBryde, the forwards coach. "We've been hugely impressed with him over the course of the autumn series."

Lydiate's emergence, along with that of the young Cardiff Blues breakaway Sam Warburton (promoted to the bench as a result of the reshuffle) gives the Wales selectors a range of options in the back-row department, especially as the quietly accomplished Jonathan Thomas is available again after long-term injury. Should Jones suffer another slump in form, or Powell run into one brick wall too many, or – God forbid – the marvellous Martyn Williams start feeling his age, it may not be quite the calamity it might have been.

Australia, close to suicidal after the traumas of the draw with Ireland and the ridiculously wasteful defeat by the Scots, have a striking back-row operator of their own in the 21-year-old David Pocock. His performance in Dublin was quite something and his contest with Williams will be one of tonight's highlights.

Wales expect a fierce examination at the set-piece, where the Wallaby front row of Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander are fast changing the perception of Australian scrummaging. Not so long ago, it was one of the funnier jokes in sport. Now, no one is laughing. Without the incapacitated Adam Jones to anchor things from the tight-head position, the home side could easily find themselves in difficulties.

"This will be the toughest scrum we'll have come up against this month," predicted McBryde, a former Test hooker. "It's a step up for us because collectively, the Wallabies have a good understanding of what they're trying to take from set-pieces in different areas of the field. Up until now we've been able to answer our critics, but it will be a hugely contested part of the game this time."

Whatever happens, the two sides are likely to play some rugby – a blissful prospect for those bored to the marrow by the anti-rugby churned out by England. One flash of Shane Williams running from deep or Matt Giteau pulling the strings in midfield will help transform an autumn famine into a feast.

Wales: J Hook (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), D Peel (Sale); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, capt), M Rees (Scarlets), P James (Ospreys), A W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), A Powell (Cardiff Blues). Replacements: H Bennett (Ospreys), D Jones (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), M Roberts (Scarlets), A Bishop (Ospreys), T James (Cardiff Blues).

Australia: A Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies); P Hynes (Queensland), D Ioane (Queensland), Q Cooper (Queensland), D Mitchell (New South Wales); M Giteau (ACT Brumbies), W Genia (Q'land); B Robinson (NSW), S Moore (ACT Brumbies), B Alexander (ACT Brumbies), J Horwill (Q'land), D Mumm (NSW), R Elsom (ACT Brumbies, capt), D Pocock (Western Force), W Palu (NSW). Replacements: T Polota-Nau (NSW), M Dunning (Western Force), M Chisholm (ACT Brumbies), G Smith (ACT Brumbies), L Burgess (NSW), J O'Connor (Western Force), K Beale (NSW).

Referee: W Barnes (England).

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice