Edwards wary of Rugby Championship sides

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 12:09
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards admits that Argentina's involvement in the Rugby Championship over the last five years have turned them into one of the most attacking teams in world rugby.

Taking on New Zealand, Australia and South Africa on a regular basis has made the Pumas a 'spectacular' side to watch and one that is not afraid to take risks, according to Edwards.

"They are benefiting from having played in the Rugby Championship over the last few years and they’ve actually changed their style of play really.

"They are now probably one of the most attacking teams in world rugby, whereas before they were very much vaunted for their set-piece.

"It does make for a very spectacular way of playing the game. It’s a little bit risky, but they don’t mind taking a risk," he said.

Wales face the Pumas at Principality Stadium in the second match of their International Series next month and Wales head coach Rob Howley agrees that his side must take the visitors on at their own game in order to finish on top.

"They combine playing the game with great physicality and great skill and they like to play the ball in hand game.

"They have got an experienced halfback in Sanchez and Landajo who actually pull the strings for them and they’ve got a fantastic back three.

"They love to play the game with high intensity … and the challenge for us is to be able to match that intensity and skill,"

But the men in charge of preparing Wales for a four match campaign which includes clashes with giant killers Japan and South Africa, are not making the mistake of looking too far ahead, as the Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde explains, the current focus is very much on first up opponents Australia.

"They are first up as well and historically we haven’t done very well in our first game of the series so, on more than one front, it’s going to be a tough match," says McBryde – Wales face the Wallabies at Principality Stadium on Saturday, November 5 to kick-off the series.

Howley agrees it’s going to be a tough opener with the Wallabies possessing quality players both up front and across the backline.

"It’s always the same when you play against Australia, their back row composition is something to admire, because they have world class players in the back row," said Howley.

"But in particular it’s the likes of Genia and Quade Cooper for me, when they are back at the helm really calling the shots they are a very difficult side to play.

"They’ve shown more consistency in selection too, despite a couple of injuries through the Rugby Championship, and another player in particular who I’m a great admirer of is Adam Ashley-Cooper,"

Edwards too is impressed by the Wallabies squad on paper, but he also suggests this first match might be one that Wales will particularly target because of the close-fought recent history between the two sides.

"They’re a team that have given us quite a lot of pain over the years.

"Last minute losses, one point scores, you name it, it’s happened to us against Australia, so I’d like to think the lads are doubly determined to try and avenge that and get a victory over Australia.

"Obviously up front, they have got good ball carriers in the forwards as well, so all around the park Australia can hurt you if you let them and we know we have to really up our intensity in defence and keep our concentration levels,"