Pres­sure mounts on Welsh coaches

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ASHFAK MO­HAMED Cardiff

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.”

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