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Shaun Edwards: Wales boss Warren Gatland knows when to peak his teams

Shaun Edwards has hailed Wales boss Warren Gatland's impressive record of "peaking his teams at the right time" throughout a trophy-laden coaching career.

With the World Cup kick-off just two weeks away, Wales are set to complete their competitive preparations by hosting Italy on Saturday before facing a fearsome pool schedule that features appointments with hosts England and Rugby Championship title holders Australia.

Wales have enjoyed considerable success under head coach Gatland, winning three Six Nations titles and two Grand Slams during his reign, in addition to reaching the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, which was Wales' best performance on a global stage since 1987.

Gatland also masterminded domestic and European triumphs for Wasps and Wales defence specialist Edwards said: "Warren has had a great record over the years of peaking his teams at the right time and that's not being boastful, just a fact.

"That has happened over his career and we are hoping he is going to do the same this time.

"There are no guarantees, obviously, but we are hoping that we peak at the right time.

"We do want momentum going into the World Cup. We are keeping fingers crossed with injuries - it would be a travesty to get someone injured so late - but you need match-practice, otherwise you are going to be undercooked going into what is a massive occasion, the World Cup.

"You have to be peaking in September or October. With a club team you can get off to a slow start but you can recover as the season goes on, but in this competition you can't."

Edwards, meanwhile, straight-batted comments from England 2003 World Cup-winning supremo Sir Clive Woodward after Gatland's 31-man squad announced earlier this week contained only two hookers in Scott Baldwin and Ken Owens. Australia have also adopted the same selection approach.

Woodward, writing in the Daily Mail, questioned it on safety grounds and said that England and head coach Stuart Lancaster should be "kicking up merry hell," citing in his view a potential for uncontested scrums due to insufficient front-row cover.

Edwards, speaking at the Millennium Stadium on Friday, said: "Sir Clive is a fantastic coach and he is more than willing to express his opinion.

"We can understand his opinion but Warren is confident that we can travel with two hookers and the Australian coaching staff must feel the same.

"Is it a gamble? Only time will tell. But you can replace players and the big advantage is that the World Cup is in the British Isles.

"And while there is a 72-hour replacement schedule in place if someone gets injured, it's not like flying them from the other side of the world. That definitely goes in our favour.

"It's two contrasting ways of looking at things and Sir Clive is a World Cup-winning coach, massive respect for him, and he is more than entitled to his opinion. We just have to answer that with our front-row performances on the pitch."


From Belfast Telegraph