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Past experiences give Welsh confidence: Owens

Wales v France, World Cup Quarter-Final, Oita, Sunday, 8.15am

Not arrogant: Ken Owens is staying focused despite belief
Not arrogant: Ken Owens is staying focused despite belief

By Andrew Baldock

Ken Owens believes that experience is a key factor behind Wales' successful big-game mentality.

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The Six Nations champions tackle World Cup quarter-final opponents France in Oita on Sunday.

It will be Wales' third successive last-eight appearance under head coach Warren Gatland, while they have beaten France in seven of the last eight meetings.

If they reach the semi-finals, then an appointment with South Africa could loom, and they have lost five out of six against Wales since 2014.

Throw in a 14-game unbeaten run between March 2018 and this summer, which included defeating Australia, winning two games in Argentina and toppling Ireland to claim a Six Nations Grand Slam, and Wales regularly get it right in high-stakes matches.

"I think it is the confidence we have got in each other," Wales hooker Owens said. "Everybody is comfortable with their role in the squad, both on and off the field.

"We have had a good continuity in the squad over the last two years, which helps galvanise us.

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"We know exactly what we are trying to achieve and where we are trying to get to. The management prepare us well, and there is no stone left unturned.

"There is experience right across the squad in big games. Liam (Wales full-back Williams) has been successful in England, a lot of players have played in big games for their clubs.

"And because we have had a lot of continuity in selection across the squad, the more you play in the big games the more you get used to them, the build-up and what is expected."

Gatland will name his team for the quarter-final today, with centre Jonathan Davies, wing George North and fly-half Dan Biggar all likely to feature after recovering from recent knocks.

And Wales will start as favourites, especially given recent history between the countries.

"We take confidence, but the last eight games we have played against them there has only been a score or so in it," Owens added.

"They have been tough matches, as they always are.

"We will take confidence from what we have achieved over the last two years and where we are as a squad, but there is confidence - it's not arrogance - as we know how good a team the French are, as they have proved against us in the past."

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