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Wales aim for a royal performance after Prince Charles visit


Leader: Ken Owens is hoping to land another win over South Africa
Leader: Ken Owens is hoping to land another win over South Africa
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Business and pleasure have been an easy mix at this World Cup. For proof, witness the large numbers attending the midweek pool games, seemingly leaving the office with just enough time to pull a replica jersey over the top of their shirts and ties.

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Even Prince Charles managed to get squeeze in some extra-curricular on his own business trip, popping in yesterday morning to watch Wales train ahead of their semi-final with South Africa on Sunday having been in Tokyo for the enshrinement of a new emperor on Tuesday.

"I think (Wales prop) Wyn Jones tried negotiating some deal with him for land," joked hooker Ken Owens.

"They've got neighbouring farms, I think. No, we just had a quick conversation. He just said, 'They're bloody big buggers, aren't they?' and left it at that. He just wished us all the best, really."

While not quite taking the attention being afforded to other semi-final of England against New Zealand one day prior, the game figures to be a finely balanced one, with Wales having the recent edge over the Springboks, winning the past four meetings.

As Owens notes though, no side has made greater strides between the draw for this competition being made in 2017 and it eventually rolling around last month than South Africa. As Ireland showed against the All Blacks, recent results mean little come this stage.

"They're hugely physical," said the Scarlets man. "Everyone has spoken about that being bred in them but they're a quality outfit.

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"You can see the growth in their squad over the past couple of seasons under Rassie Erasmus. They're a very well-coached team. They're a quality side.

"They've had some big results and gone to New Zealand and got a draw. They've definitely improved over the last two or three years. We've won the last four against them but form goes out of the window and records are there to be broken.

"We're just looking forward to the opportunity to play in a World Cup semi-final, play against one of the best teams in the world and hopefully get a result."

They should be boosted by the return of influential centre Jonathan Davies.

Davies, man of the series on the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017, was due to feature against France last week but was pulled between the team being named and kick-off in Oita thanks to the re-occurrence of knee injury he sustained against Fiji in the pool stages.

"He seems OK," confirmed skills coach Neil Jenkins. "He is getting back to it, so I would like to think he is going to be taking a full part this week in training and obviously be fit for Sunday.

"He is a key player for us, a big player, someone that we need fit, realistically. Owen (Watkin) did exceptionally well on Sunday and is a talented player, but the more numbers we have, the better.

"Jon is a world-class player and you need your world-class players fit, and hopefully he will be available for selection."

Belfast Telegraph


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