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Wales inspired by Joe Calzaghe meeting ahead of Rugby World Cup clash with Fiji


Wales' World Cup squad met up with former boxing champion Joe Calzaghe ahead of Thursday's clash against Fiji

Wales' World Cup squad met up with former boxing champion Joe Calzaghe ahead of Thursday's clash against Fiji

Wales' World Cup squad met up with former boxing champion Joe Calzaghe ahead of Thursday's clash against Fiji

Wales could deliver another painful blow to England's ailing Rugby World Cup campaign if they beat Pool A opponents Fiji at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday.

And undefeated former world boxing champion Joe Calzaghe will have played a small part in helping unbeaten Wales continue punching their weight, should the 2011 World Cup semi-finalists move top of the so-called group of death.

If Wales see off the South Sea Islanders, then host nation England must beat Australia at Twickenham on Saturday or they will be knocked out of their own World Cup after just 15 days.

Welshman Calzaghe met the Wales squad on Tuesday, when the players were treated to a private viewing of Mr Calzaghe - a documentary-film about the Newbridge fighter's life - followed by a question and answer session.

"It was good for the boys to see the film, but also to talk to Joe and his father," Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde said.

"It came across strongly that he has been true to his roots. He was never-say-die, always saw himself as the underdog and trained as such. He thrived on that.

"We've still got a bit of work to do after putting ourselves in a great situation in the group, and we know that we have sterner and stiffer challenges that we need to meet head-on.

"Joe stuck around and spent time answering the boys' questions with his father. It was great for them to have some respite from rugby and to talk to one of the world's finest sportsmen.

"The World Cup is a unique experience. Tom Jones one week (presenting the Wales shirts ahead of England), Joe Calzaghe the next. I don't know who the next in line is, but the pressure is mounting!"

Wales' 28-25 success at Twickenham last Saturday kick-started momentum for them in the tournament, and McBryde admits there is a similarity between the current World Cup campaign and in New Zealand four years ago.

"It is very similar to four years ago where we built up a head of steam," he added. "After the Samoa game in 2011, things started to kick off. If we can get another win, that momentum will grow.

"That was a huge result last week. We have put ourselves in a good position, but nothing more than that. We've paid Fiji huge respect and put a lot of work in off the field."

One of Wales' biggest challenges this week has been the short turnaround following their Twickenham triumph, and they will go into battle against Fiji with 12 of the starting XV retained from last Saturday. All three of head head coach Warren Gatland's changes are injury-enforced.

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"It has been a balance with regards to how much work has been done between the two games," McBryde said.

"It's going to be a big physical battle on Thursday. They (Fiji) are going for the first big win, and they won't hold back against us.

"For us, it is that resolve and experience that players have gathered in the last four years with consistency and make-up of the squad. You don't need to look further back than last weekend to see the resolve and resilience in the team.

"Slowly, that momentum is building. It was the same four years ago in New Zealand. The players are not taking anything lightly, and they know what works as individuals and as a team."

Full-back Liam Williams' absence on Thursday due to concussion has opened a World Cup door for 23-year-old Bristol star Matthew Morgan, and McBryde has predicted big things from him.

"He is quite a slippery character," McBryde added. "I wouldn't want to stop him in a five-metre channel.

"One of the best things with Matthew's selection is that the whole of Wales can see strengths that he's got and identify him as a Wales player of old with that swing of the hips, an extra bit of magic.

"Because the supporters can identify with that, they will get behind him and the roar will go up and anticipation grows when he gets the ball."

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