Coach Edwards: the Millennium Stadium will be no place for the faint-hearted

2013-11-08 00:00

THE Welsh are preparing for war against the Springboks in Cardiff tomorrow night and defence coach Shaun Edwards says that the Millennium Stadium will be no place for the faint-hearted.

While the Springboks are at the fag-end of a gruelling year, the Welsh will be fresh and energetic for their season opener in front of their passionate and excited supporters.

This is the first time the teams have met since the Springboks edged home 17-16 in the 2011 Rugby World Cup pool game in Wellington.

Wales have a dreadful record against the South Africans with just one win in 107 years and 26 internationals.

“If you like your rugby rough and tough, with a lot of skill thrown in, then go and buy a ticket because it will be no place for the faint of heart.

“We have to muscle up against these boys. We practise our tackling a lot but we certainly have been concentrating on that this week.”

Edwards was glowing in his praise of the Springboks, saying that they had the skills to match their power rugby and had scored four tries in their recent outing against the All Blacks.

“They play with a lot of width as well, so they have a lot of options.”

Edwards said that “probably the best team I have ever coached against was the South African team of 2009.

“There have been some great New Zealand sides, but that South African team beat New Zealand three times in the same season [2009].”

The Welsh coach said that the current Springbok side was the best since 2009. “Heyneke Meyer has done a great job. We know what we are going up against.”

The Welsh, with four Six Nations titles in nine seasons, are a proud rugby nation, but they have consistently failed against the Springboks. They are desperate to break their 14-year drought.

“We have had some close calls with South Africa over the years and there has only been a few lapses of concentration that have stopped us winning,” said Edwards.

Head Welsh coach Warren Gatland has named 10 British Lions in his team and Meyer knows his team will be hard-pressed to retain their excellent record in Cardiff.

“Wales are the in-form team in the northern hemisphere. They have been together for a while and have proved they can beat the best. They have a simple game plan, but are incredibly efficient at doing it. We know they will come out firing at the Millennium Stadium.

“They will be confident because of what many of their players achieved with the Lions [against the Wallabies]. But we are not Australia. This is about us.”

Meyer has said he wants the Millennium’s retractable roof open for the Test — both coaches have to agree to have it closed — to prepare his side for the wet conditions they can anticipate at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

“We need to adapt,” he said. “I have always said that there is no bad weather, only soft people, so we have to have the right mindset. Once we start worrying about the conditions or the roof, we are in the wrong mindset.

“I actually want it to rain this week because that is what we will face in the World Cup. The team has to be mentally tough to play in all conditions.”

Kick-off at the Millennium Stadium is at 7.30 pm (SA time) tomorrow.

Ospreys wing Eli Walker will not make his debut for Wales against South Africa on Saturday after pulling out late yesterday with a hamstring injury. The 21-year-old had been named as the injured Alex Cuthbert’s replacement, but he went down with the injury at training yesterday. Scarlets fullback Liam Williams takes his place with Ashley Beck drafted in for a place on the bench.

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