Ken Owens: Wales hooker targets 'sweetest of scalps' against Australia

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales
Hooker Ken Owens has won 57 caps for Wales and played two Tests for the British and Irish Lions
Hooker Ken Owens has won 57 caps for Wales and played two Tests for the British and Irish Lions
Under Armour Series: Wales v Scotland, Australia, Tonga & South Africa
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Dates: Saturdays 3, 10, 17 & 24 November
Coverage: Live on BBC Wales, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website and app.

Ken Owens wants Wales to prove the gap between the northern and southern hemispheres is narrowing by taking the "sweetest of scalps" against Australia.

Wales have lost their last 13 Tests against Australia, who they will face in the same World Cup pool next year.

They open their autumn series against Scotland on 3 November, before playing the Wallabies the following Saturday.

"Going into the World Cup, people are going to speak about us not beating Australia," said hooker Owens.

"So if we pick up a win against them, that psychological barrier will be gone as well."

Asked if Australia would be the sweetest of scalps, Owens said: "Yes it would be. The margin of defeats hasn't been great.

"You look to learn from what has happened in the past. Some people might say it is a mental barrier or block.

"Just generally they've had that little bit extra and been more clinical, and we haven't reacted to that.

"There's been one error that's decided a lot of those games and we've spoken about how clinical the southern hemisphere sides are and we are getting better at that.

"It is just closing games out and matching their intensity straight away."

Rankings boost

Wales, who will also play Tonga and South Africa in November at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, go into the autumn series ranked third in the world behind Ireland and leaders New Zealand.

England are fourth, then South Africa with Scotland ahead of Australia in a comparatively lowly seventh.

"Third in the world is great at the moment," said British and Irish Lions hooker Owens.

"It's a huge confidence boost and we have earned our spot there.

"We want to keep among the top spots in the world and can only do that by winning.

"New Zealand are clearly quite far ahead at the moment, with Ireland in second.

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"For us to be challenging in the World Cup we want to be keeping ourselves among the best in the world.

"What you've seen in the last number of years is southern hemisphere sides coming up here and winning everything.

"England would get a couple of results, Scotland would pick up the odd one, but in general the southern hemisphere dominated.

"I don't think that's happening so much now and that barrier between north and south is slowly starting to go. So perhaps it is more even.

"Teams are going to South Africa, Australia and Argentina and winning and perhaps that's where you can see that the northern hemisphere sides can beat the southern hemisphere sides."

Former Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017
Former Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017

Doddie Weir Cup

Before taking on the southern hemisphere sides, Wales will face Scotland for the inaugural Doddie Weir Cup, a match that falls outside World Rugby's international window.

"It is slightly different," said the 31-year-old Owens.

"Normally in the autumn we'll play four southern hemisphere sides, but this time playing a northern hemisphere team we will have to switch our mindset and play slightly differently.

"It's something we're looking forward to, as it's good preparation for us leading up to the World Cup.

"We are going to try and win every game this autumn.

"[Wales coach] Warren Gatland has said there will be a slight conditioning phase in this campaign, but we still want to win Test matches going into the World Cup."

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