WHAT does it say about the Wallabies' psyche that Wales coach Warren Gatland, who tore down the All Blacks and Pumas in recent weeks, is again pandering to Australians' self-image as sport's great overachievers in the lead-up to Sunday's Cardiff Test?

Gatland, the former All Blacks hooker who coached in Scotland, Ireland, England and his native New Zealand before being appointed Wales coach in 2007, has earned himself the well-earned reputation of being the straightest shooter -- bluntest speaker, in other words -- in international rugby.

He virtually declared war on the All Blacks in the lead-up to that Test at Millennium Stadium on November 7, demystifying the aura that surrounds the most fabled team in world rugby.

"I have enormous respect for the All Blacks, and so should you, but don't show them too much respect," Gatland said.

It almost worked too, with Wales positioning themselves to win that Test before ultimately losing 19-12.

Before the Pumas Test last weekend Gatland said something truly astounding.

"I've spoken to Graham Rowntree (England's scrummaging coach) who said they thought the Australian scrum was significantly stronger than the Argentinian one," he said.

Wales won 33-16, reducing the Pumas scrum to a non-event. He began his press conference yesterday not with the usual snarls at the advancing enemy, but with heartfelt sympathy for the Wallabies' ill-luck in seeing two victories slip through their fingers over the past fortnight in literally the last gasp of the Ireland and Scotland Tests.

The Wallabies have been caught off-guard too often lately, but at least this time they have been forewarned.

Wales coach's praises have a familiar ring to Wallabies