Familiar faces Gatland and Schmidt reunited in Sydney

Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland talking in 2019 before Wales defeated Ireland in Cardiff

Men's international: Australia v Wales

Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney Date: Saturday, 6 July Kick off: 10:45 BST

Coverage: Listen on, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website and app, plus live text commentary, followed by report and reaction on the BBC Sport website and app.

Familiar faces will battle it out again on Saturday when New Zealanders Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt come face to face as Australia host Wales in Sydney.

It is a rivalry that dates back decades.

"We actually played in the New Zealand teachers' school team together," said former hooker Gatland.

"He was a scrawny winger who played for Manawatu, although he actually had a little bit of pace."

They have coached against each other since, when Schmidt was in charge of Ireland.

After returning to New Zealand, he eventually became part of the All Blacks coaching staff, helping the side to the 2023 World Cup final where they were beaten by South Africa.

Then Australia came calling.

"I thought Joe had retired. He's had about three of them (retirements), but seems to come out of it every couple of years," said Gatland.

"He went back to New Zealand to retire, then came back with the Blues and then the All Blacks and now Australia. Hopefully they're paying him lots of money!"

Mind games and wind-ups

Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland speak before the Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales in 2018
Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland before the Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales in 2018 [Huw Evans Picture Agency]

The duo last faced each other in international rugby when Wales beat Ireland to clinch the 2019 Grand Slam in driving Cardiff rain.

"I think back to that game and a couple of things about Joe, and I couldn't believe Ireland wanted to play with the roof open," said Gatland.

"I don't think all the players were 100% happy with that."

Gatland admits to winding Schmidt up in the past.

"I know Joe scours through every single article and everything that has been said," said Gatland.

"The Irish analysts would send me a text when we played them, saying 'please don't say anything to upset Joe as he reads it and it'll make our life a misery for the rest of the week'.

"I'd purposely say something that would upset Joe, not that I meant it."

Gatland says he has the utmost respect for Schmidt, who he believes did "unbelievably well" with Leinster and Ireland.

"He's gone back to New Zealand and probably been part of that resurgence with the Blues and the All Blacks," said Gatland.

"From a slow start, we saw the improvement of them as a team in the World Cup.

"We go back a long way and there's always a bit of banter between coaches, but we all understand we're in the same situation and under the same pressure.

"It's no different to the questions I'd get asked about Eddie Jones when he was involved.

"Maybe we're not ringing each other up to go get a drink all the time, but we understand we're all subject to the same pressures, both internally and externally."

Testing times

Both coaches are in challenging jobs coming into the summer series, with ninth-placed Australia playing a Wales side one place lower in the world rankings.

Gatland has six wins and 13 defeats in his second stint in charge of Wales.

There have been seven successive losses since last year's World Cup, where Gatland's side reached the quarter-finals.

After Australia's humiliating World Cup pool exit, which included a record 40-6 defeat against Wales in Lyon, Eddie Jones quit and the Wallabies have turned to Schmidt.

This summer represents the beginning of a crucial few years for Australian rugby, with the British and Irish Lions touring next year before they host the 2027 World Cup.

Gatland expects Schmidt to have an immediate effect despite having spent only a couple of weeks with his new squad.

"I saw something where he said he has never felt so unprepared, but that can work in two ways," said Gatland.

"This is a pretty important starting point for them, with the Lions coming next year and the World Cup in 2027.

"He'll bring structure and organisation for them, some continuity and self-belief.

"He's put a good coaching team together with Mike Cron, Laurie Fisher and Geoff Parling.

"They are incredibly experienced guys who are well respected in the game. Hopefully things go well for Australia, but not in the next couple of weeks."

Schmidt is also looking forward to the reunion.

"I have known Gats (Gatland) for a long time, we played against each other and I even played a couple of games with him," he said.

"I know Gats will spark the emotions and he will have a very passionate Welsh team out there on Saturday night."