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Wales playing the weight-ing game in a bid to bring down dangerous Wallabies; WALES v AUSTRALIA: We've just got to be able to raise it in the last 20 in these autumn internationals - Alun Wyn Jones.

Byline: SIMON THOMAS

WALES have been playing the "weighting" game as they plot the downfall of the Wallabies.

Warren Gatland's men have been wearing weighted vests in training to improve their fitness and get them up to speed quicker ahead of Saturday's opening autumn international.

The idea behind the innovative move is to increase the players' workload without them having to spend any extra time out on the training paddock.

Each player wears a vest which is equivalent to five per cent of their body weight.

So, for example, second row Alun Wyn Jones, who is 18st 12lbs (120kgs), has had to carry round an extra stone in weight during training.

Kiwi coach Gatland explained: "We have being trying to work the guys a bit harder and really push them.

"We've had them wearing weighted vests to try and fatigue them a bit. When you put the vest on, it feels like you are running a bit harder than you normally are, even though you are running the same distance "Then when take the vest off, you feel a bit sharper and quicker."

Jones admits it's no fun, but acknowledges that the players are feeling the benefits.

"The vests have always been there and we've always looked at them, wondering 'Is it going to be today or tomorrow?'" he said.

"And, inevitably, it was this week.

"The novelty wore off in about two days if I'm honest!

"I am sure it's all right for a back. If you are 80kgs and wearing five per cent of your body weight, it's not too bad.

"If you are 120kgs, like me, and wearing an extra five per cent it's not fun. That's an extra six or seven kilos.

"But I have seen the benefits. Taking them off is awesome!

"I can feel my knees and ankles again.

"The idea is we train shorter, but with the vests you carry the extra weight and get the sling-shot effect.

"The next day we definitely looked a bit sharper because we were not carrying that extra five per cent.

"It's good. It's extra work without knowing you are doing it.

"It's safe to say the backs found it a lot easier than a lot of the forwards.

"But we are glad we've done it. It's extra training without extra time on your feet, if you like."

Jones recognises that fitness is vitally important at international level, particularly against the southern hemisphere giants, with the ability to keep going for the full 80 minutes being crucial.

"We've been put to the test the last week or so, but it's good," said the 40-cap Ospreys lock.

"It really comes down to the last 20 minutes in these international games.

"That's hopefully where we can see the benefits.

"We've taken it to teams like that in the Six Nations. We've just got to be able to raise it in the last 20 in these autumn internationals "If you look at the first Test against New Zealand in the summer we were there for 60 minutes.

"But, if we are honest, we blew up in the last 20, with poor kicks and poor kick chase, and the scoreline didn't really reflect the game."

Wales had originally been due to name their team to face Australia yesterday, but Gatland has decided to delay the announcement until tomorrow, the same day as the Wallabies reveal their hand.

"I just think it's what everyone is doing at the moment," explained Gatland.

"There is so much analysis going on, why name your team on a Tuesday? "It's better to keep the opposition guessing and do it on a Thursday.

"It means they don't have an opportunity of spending a couple of days trawling through for information on a couple of players we might have picked.

"I think we are reasonably clear in our own minds what the side might be, but we will make that decision on Thursday."

Asked whether keeping his cards close to his chest in this fashion would now become the norm, Gatland confirmed it would.

"I'm turning over a new leaf," he said. "I got myself in trouble too much before for giving opinions and telling the truth." After taking on Australia, Wales face further Millennium Stadium showdowns against South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand on successive weekends. "The target is to go out there and try and win every game, for confidence as much as anything," said Gatland. "We are up against two teams that are in our pool for the World Cup, that's South Africa and Fiji.

"They are going to be big tests for us and a chance to establish a psychological advantage over the next 12 months.

"Australia are going to be hard. We beat them a couple of years ago, but were disappointed with our performance against them 12 months ago and need to improve on that. Then, last up, it's the All Blacks.

"We are really looking forward to this autumn campaign and seeing what sort of improvement we've made from the summer.

"Not picking up too many injuries is the key thing for us."

Wales have already had their fair share of those, with Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies, George North, Ryan Jones and Rob McCusker all crocked.

The injuries to back-rowers Jones and McCusker has resulted in teenage Dragons No 8 Toby Faletau being added to the squad this week.

"He's a player we've kept an eye on for a little while with the Under-20s," revealed Gatland.

"We decided last week we had to bring another loose forward in.

"We thought we'd wait until after the weekend to have a look at the matches to make a decision.

"Toby was very impressive against the Ospreys and he looked good the week before as well.

"It was a good performance from a young man with a lot of potential.

"If we get some youngsters in and think they are going to be good enough, we are trying to expose them at the highest level.

"Two or three years down the line you could potentially get a gem and someone who is going to make a difference to the side.

"The best exponents of that over the years are our opposition on Saturday.

"Australia always tend to bring in young players, pick them and stick with them."

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Alun Wyn Jones pictured in action during training this week wearing one of the new weighted vests
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Nov 3, 2010
Words:1074
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