Pressure mounts on Welsh coaches
CLEARLY the pressure of winning only one in 27 Tests against southernhemisphere teams is getting to the Wales camp ahead of Saturday’s Test against the Springboks.
There were headlines in the Welsh media after head coach Warren Gatland appeared to be upset by a TV interviewer’s question following the 34-16 defeat to the All Blacks at the weekend, when he was asked if he was feeling the pressure of seeing the poor record of just one victory over the three southern powers.
And yesterday, when defence coach Shaun Edwards was asked by a Welsh reporter whether it was fair or not for the headlines to state that Gatland was under pressure, Edwards did not take kindly to it. “What do you mean under pressure? Being a Test match rugby coach, every game’s got pressure. I don’t understand what you mean. Do you think he’s going to get sacked?” Edwards shot back.
When the reporter said no, Edwards continued: “So, what are you saying? Every game’s got pressure. If you coach Wigan Under-11s, there’s pressure – you’re a coach. Every coach is under pressure in every game, everyone’s under pressure. If you’re coaching a Sunday League team, you are under pressure to win. I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at.”
The reporter then referred to the one out of 27 statistic, which really incensed the eccentric and fierce-looking Edwards, who is a former rugby league great for Great Britain. “So, what about if you win three Six Nations?”
The journalist then gave up the line of questioning by saying “Well, fine, that’s a good answer”, to which Edwards retorted: “Yeah, it is a good answer. Next question”.
Apart from that aside, Edwards feels Bok fullback Willie le Roux is the “guy we have to keep an eye on”, but he feels wing Cornal Hendricks will also one of the main dangermen that Wales will have to stop if they hope to finally put one over the South Africans.
Hendricks, who scored in both Tests against Wales in June, is set to return in the No14 jersey in place of the unavailable JP Pietersen. “They have threats all over the field do the Springboks. They have an incredibly powerful forward pack and I think their defence is as good, if not the best in the world at the moment,” said Edwards.
“They’ve got outstanding backs as well who have a lot of speed, and intelligent players who have a constructive kicking game as well. And they have an outstanding fullback in Willie le Roux. He was the main torturer for us throughout the summer, and he is the type of guy we need to keep our eye on Saturday if we want to have a chance of winning.
“Willie is obviously well known in the rugby world, but I must say I was unpleasantly surprised by how good Hendricks was in the summer. I thought his footwork – his ability to step off both feet – was great and I think he made the break that probably won them the second Test from the scrum.
“He stepped off his left foot, which is just as good as his step off his right. He played Sevens rugby and is someone I’ve got a lot of respect for. I didn’t know much about him before that, but after that series, I understood why he was such an outstanding Sevens player.”