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Shaun Edwards focused on World Cup clash with Australia and not his Wales future

Shaun Edwards has swerved talk about his Wales contract situation and says he is far too occupied with plotting a way to stop an all-singing, all-dancing Australia team in Saturday's Rugby World Cup Pool A decider.

Wales assistant coach and defensive specialist Edwards is out of contract after the tournament.

He joined the Wales set-up when Warren Gatland took charge in 2007, and has proved instrumental behind Wales landing three Six Nations title successes, two Grand Slams and reaching the World Cup semi-finals four years ago.

With fall-out continuing from host nation England's failed World Cup campaign and speculation raging about a possible new coaching team being installed, Edwards is among several people who has been linked to a Red Rose post.

Asked about his post-World Cup future on Friday, Edwards said: "Do you know what? I watched Australia play the other day on a couple of tapes, and I've got my hands full thinking about that at the moment, to be honest.

"I think I will just concentrate on trying to beat Australia at the moment.

"This is a huge game for us. We are playing against the current champions of the southern hemisphere, a team that has been in fantastic form recently.

"Any team that can beat the All Blacks, which they did in the summer, and to win the Rugby Championship you are talking about an incredibly formidable force. We have to be at our absolute best if we have got any chance of beating them."

Wales have lost 10 Tests on the bounce against the Wallabies, although seven of those defeats were by five points or fewer, while their overall World Cup record shows one win and four losses.

Edwards added: "This is a different day, a different game.

"I've coached teams who have won 10 games on the trot, and when it has come to the 11th game I've said 'forget about the last 10 lads, because this is a totally different day', and I will be saying exactly the same.

"We feel that we have had equal preparation time.

"It's pretty well known that the northern hemisphere teams sometimes only have two weeks together before playing against the southern hemisphere lads, but that's not the case in Rugby World Cup years. We've had all summer together, and we go into this game pretty well prepared.

"When we get the ball we want to attack as much as we can, but we know what a potent offensive unit the Australians are. I think they scored the most tries in the Rugby Championship, and they just beat England, who are a very strong team, by 20 points, so we know what we are coming up against.

"We have to be at our absolute best, both offensively and defensively. All parts of our game are going to have to be really, really up there to be in contention for this game."

Victory for Wales would secure a quarter-final clash against Scotland or Japan, but if they lose, then a last-eight appointment with twice world champions South Africa beckons.

And the game throws up an intriguing coaching head to head between defensive mastermind Edwards and Australia's attack coach, their former World Cup-winning fly-half Stephen Larkham.

"Stephen Larkham was one of the greatest players I ever saw playing rugby, and he is becoming one of the best coaches as well," Edwards said. "I am probably in direct competition with him this week.

"We are relieved that we're through to the quarter-finals, but we want to win every single game.

"We've only lost one out of our last 10 games, so we are on a bit of a roll. We want to keep that going.

"Let's make no bones about it, Australia have had the upper hand on us for the last few years, and we are pretty determined to bring our competitive edge out.

"It would be a very good achievement (to finish top of the pool), but we are a little more ambitious than that.

"Last time, we got to the (World Cup) semi-final and everyone knows what happened then. Top of the group would be great, but it is only a pathway to something which hopefully would be bigger and better than that."


From Belfast Telegraph