The Welsh have won their opening two pool games and if they triumph on Sunday in Lyon will push Eddie Jones’s Wallabies to the brink of becoming the first Australian side to fail to reach the knockout stages.
Australia’s defeat to Fiji last Sunday leaves them in a precarious position.
The prize for the Welsh should they win is a quarter-final spot, having garnered 10 points from their first two games.
Gatland and Jones are in second spells in charge of their teams having been recalled after their predecessors Wayne Pivac and Dave Rennie were fired in December 2022, and January this year respectively.
Gatland is the happiest of the two as they head into their encounter, although the 60-year-old New Zealander believes his team were unfairly treated after the thrilling win over Fiji a fortnight ago.
“We felt that the team that went out against Fiji, for 65 minutes, did exactly what we asked for,” Gatland told reporters after announcing his matchday squad.
“I don’t think we got enough credit for the way we played against Fiji.
“I was really pleased with the way that we went about that game against Fiji.
“It was the highest ball-in-play time in the tournament and we were in control for those 25 minutes after half-time.
“It’s just about building on that and that starting XV get an opportunity to go again on Sunday.”
‘Won’t lie down’
Flanker Jac Morgan skippers the side, one of three players who will have started in all three pool matches.
Veteran No 8 Taulupe Faletau and wing Louis Rees-Zammit are the other two players to start in both the Fiji game and then the 28-8 win over Portugal last Saturday.
Adam Beard will win his 50th cap.
Beard, 27, beds down in the second row with Will Rowlands, who was so impressive in the Fiji match.
Gareth Davies is named at scrum-half with Dan Biggar returning at fly-half.
Gatland gets on fairly well with Jones but, blessed with dry humour when asked if he feel for the brittle Australian, he replied: “No.”
“That was a bit of a joke,” he said. “As coaches, we all come under pressure at times.
“In fairness to Eddie, he’s trying to take as much pressure off the players as he can, saying he’s responsible for the results and that things aren’t good enough.
“I understand where he’s at.”
Gatland, who guided Wales in his previous spell to two World Cup semi-finals, expects a reaction from the Australians after the Fiji defeat and with the stakes so high.
“They’re always tough,” said Gatland.
“If you look at the recent record of games between Wales and Australia, there’s never much in it.
“They won’t lie down and roll over for us.
“Delighted that Wayne Barnes is reffing it, having an experienced referee in control of the game is a real positive for us.”
Gatland said despite inconsistent results since he took over the two wins in France had given the players a real pep in their step.
“We’re going in with a lot of confidence on Sunday,” said Gatland.
“We haven’t been at our best for 80 minutes in those two games. There were a lot of changes for Portugal.
“We’ve got 10 points and we know a win on Sunday puts us into the quarter-finals.”
Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Jac Morgan (capt), Aaron Wainwright; Adam Beard, Will Rowlands; Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Gareth Thomas
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Henry Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins, Taine Basham, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Rio Dyer
Coach: Warren Gatland (NZL)
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