Shaun Edwards: Experience will be a vital ingredient for Wales
Shaun Edwards believes that experience will be a key ingredient for Wales as they prepare to launch their World Cup campaign.
A build-up that Wales assistant coach Edwards says has been “two years in the making” ends when the Six Nations champions tackle Pool D opponents Georgia on Monday.
Wales will field their oldest starting line-up for a World Cup game, with an average age of 28 years and 331 days, and Edwards has no doubt it is a priceless commodity.
“We are more experienced – definitely more experienced,” Edwards said, when asked to contrast 2019 with previous World Cup campaigns that have involved him.
“I was told that this is the most experienced XV we have played at a Rugby World Cup.
“You look back at 2003 – the only northern hemisphere team to win it (World Cup) was obviously England.
“They had an experienced team – a few guys over 30. I don’t think that does you any harm.”
Wales face Georgia in Toyota City, hoping to make an immediate statement and building on last season’s Six Nations title success.
“We have been preparing for this for a very long time – two years in the making,” Edwards added.
“We are fully focused on Monday night against a formidable opponent, and one that we have a lot of respect for.”
The current forecast for Toyota on Monday is prolonged rain, but the stadium’s retractable roof will not be closed, which has been the case since 2015 due to extra maintenance costs.
“Obviously, if a storm comes, there is nothing we can do about that,” he said.
“But I think we have to look at the game against Ireland at the end of the Six Nations when they wanted the roof open.
“We are confident about the way we can play in the wet. We are a good wet-weather team. If it is wet and slippery, which it could be, then we have to adapt our tactics and tighten things up.
“Saturday’s France versus Argentina game was a good example of how driven lineouts are still a massive part of the game.
“Both of Argentina’s tries against France came from the driven lineout, and Australia – they won 19 lineouts and drove 10 of them and it got them back in the game against Fiji.
“It just shows how important those tight aspects of the game are. They are still massive.”
Wales are red-hot favourites to get their tournament off and running in victorious fashion before facing a likely group decider against Australia in Tokyo next Sunday.
“You can’t look too far ahead, and I think heavyweight boxing has proved that over the last few months,” Edwards added.
“We have to overcome Georgia first, and then we will look at Australia. As to how far we can go? I’m not one to make predictions. I just know we are to ready to play on Monday.
“There is no complacency in our team. Rugby is very emotive, and you have to encourage that emotion, but we have to control that and use it in the right way. We aim to do that on Monday.
“Yes, we want to be aggressive and have good line-speed, but we also want to be disciplined and onside. We have practised, and the boss (head coach Warren Gatland) has been massive on keeping half a foot behind the offside line to stay onside.
“We know they (Georgia) will be well-prepared, and physically they look like they are in good shape as well.
“They are big men and they are going to be physical, but so are we. We’re not coming here to make up the numbers.”