Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wales 'should lower expectations'

Quade Cooper in action in Australia's thrilling win over New Zealand
Quade Cooper in action in Australia's thrilling win over New Zealand

Wales have been warned that the autumn Tests against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand should be judged on the level of performance, not on results.

For the last year the Tri-Nations sides have been playing under the new International Rugby Board directives that encourage more attacking play.

Ex-captain Gwyn Jones says Wales will take time to adapt to the new game.

"I wouldn't judge the autumn series on results alone," Jones told the Scrum V show before Saturday's Australia Test.

"Wales' objective should be to redefine their strategy in a new age of rugby. Phase one should be about getting more competitive, phase two will be the Six Nations [as Wales build towards the 2011 World Cup].

I think he can be a bit volatile... You have to get stuck into him, get under his skin... rub his hair, get a slanging match going and have a pop at him

Jonathan Davies on Quade Cooper

"[Wales coach] Warren Gatland's side must become more inventive and less predictable... it needs a good shake-up.

"We need to see improvement as November goes on, and we must beat Fiji."

After Saturday's opener against the Wallabies, Wales' four-Test Millennium Stadium series sees them welcome South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand to Cardiff on successive weekends.

"It's going to be a very, very tough month," former Wales fly-half and captain Jonathan Davies told Scrum V.

"Managing expectation is really difficult in Wales and international rugby is all about winning.

"I still feel that we haven't got the strength in depth that we need for such a tough month of Test rugby.

Adam Jones survives brutal training

"When we have our best team out we're capable of beating anyone. When we haven't it's a struggle."

After analysing the Tri Nations sides, Jones says that Wales' best chance will come in the 13 November clash with world champions South Africa.

"They are a side struggling to catch up with the new style of play," said the former flanker.

"They kick the most and pass the least. It's so last year... they're beatable.

"New Zealand have led the way with the new game. It favours ball retention, so why give the ball away?

"Australia's attitude [to the law tweaks] has been extreme. They kick less than any international team and integral to their fluid style of play are their tricky players at nine, 10 and 12.

"Wales must fly up defensively to cut down space and blast their pitiful scrum."

The task facing Wales seems even more formidable in the wake of Australia's thrilling 26-24 win over the All Blacks in Hong Kong on Saturday.

"New Zealand will be thinking that they have to pull their finger out, while Australia will have gained a lot of confidence," said Davies.

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Former Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half Robert Jones is also an admirer of the Wallabies, but suggested that one of their strengths could also prove to be a weakness.

"[The Tri Nations sides] are 12 months ahead of us in terms of the law changes," he told Scrum V

"[Australia have] without doubt the best back line in world rugby. The axis at 10 and 12 between Quade Cooper and Matt Giteau is fantastic, these two guys make things happen.

"[But] Cooper does make a lot of mistakes because he tries so much, and he's not the bravest of defenders."

Davies added: "You need to run down Cooper's defensive channel to tire him and I think he can be a bit volatile.

"You have to get stuck into him, get under his skin... rub his hair, get a slanging match going and have a pop at him.

"If you try to blitz [the Wallabies in defence] they will beat it - you have to be more clever... The scrum can be exploited, but they are going to be difficult to beat."


Scrum V goes behind the scenes with the Wales camp

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