Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Rugby World Cup: Edwards expects Wales to deliver

Shaun Edwards has urged Wales to seize the moment when they bid for a World Cup semi-final place at Ireland's expense on Saturday.

Wales have not reached the tournament's penultimate knockout stage since 1987, when they were beaten by hosts New Zealand before toppling Australia to claim a third-placed finish.

The Wales squad arrived in Wellington yesterday fresh from routing Fiji, a 66-0 victory that confirmed their last-eight spot and ensuring status was retained as tournament dark horses.

“It is a moment in time you have to seize,” Wales assistant coach Edwards said.

“Both teams will be giving 100 per cent to try to make sure they are not the team who are packing their bags next Monday.”

Wales are confident that James Hook, Shane Williams and Dan Lydiate will be fit to face Ireland, giving coach Warren Gatland a full squad of 30 to select from.

Full-back Hook (shoulder) and flanker Lydiate (ankle) have been sidelined since going off during Wales' punishing win against Samoa two weeks ago, while wing Williams (thigh strain) missed the landslide successes against Namibia and Fiji.

“I think we’re looking pretty healthy, probably the healthiest we've been going into this week. It is very promising in that area,” Edwards added.

“It's a nice change for us because we had to come over here without quite a few of our star players, so it makes a welcome change for us to be having a nice run with injuries.

“Over the last two or three years we've had more than our fair share of injuries and it has probably come at the right time that we have a lot of guys available.”

Other quarter-final contenders are not so fortunate, with All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter the most notable casualty, being ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to a serious groin injury, while South African centre Frans Steyn is another absentee.

“I think every team realises now that in such a collision-based sport you are going to pick up injuries,” said Edwards.

“All coaches hope and pray that they are not going to get their star players injured, but percentages tell you that you are going to lose a star or a key player or two along the way.”

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