‘Battered’ Wales rest up for Australia showdown
We want to be group winners, says Jenkins Biggar becoming ‘one of the best 10s in the world’
The Wales camp was a quiet place yesterday morning, with most of the players having returned home for a weekend off after the Fiji match, but among the management remaining there was a palpable sense of relief that, after the euphoria of victory over England, a potential banana skin had been avoided.
“Obviously there are a lot of battered bodies,” said kicking coach Neil Jenkins. “It was a brutal Test match last night. But we have got the job done and we have won. To play two Test matches to the standard we have played over the last few days is huge. It doesn’t bear thinking about what these boys have gone through. They trained on Tuesday, did a team run Wednesday, then played against a team who were fresh and eager to do well.”
All eyes now turn to Twickenham, but the truth is that the result of the England versus Australia match does not really matter that much to Wales. Yes, if England lose, Wales are definitely through to the quarter-finals, but if Wales then lose to Australia in a week’s time it is likely that they will face South Africa and be in the wrong side of the draw along with New Zealand.
“Whatever happens on Saturday night, we have got to turn up a week Saturday and win,” said Jenkins. “Even if England did lose on Saturday night and go out, we will still be looking forward to the Australia game. We want to go through as group winners.”
The effects of such a short turnaround between two hugely physical Tests were there for all to see as flyhalf Dan Biggar limped off with cramp during the second half on Thursday night.
“It just took its toll,” said Jenkins. “There were a lot of boys cramping up last night, which is understandable having played England, travelling home and then playing against an incredibly tough Fiji side. Dan was just another one who was cramping up. I think it’s just fatigue. It was a pretty fast game and I think both sides were pretty happy when the final whistle went.”
Biggar kicked 13 points, including an important penalty from near halfway that put Wales 10 points clear when Fiji were threatening all sorts of mayhem in the second half, and although he may not have been at his best in his general play, he remains the darling of Welsh rugby.
“He is a massive player for Wales at this moment in time and a real go-to man,” said Jenkins. “I wouldn’t say he is too far away from being one of the best 10s in the world. He has the desire to be the best in the world and he is certainly going the right way about it.
“From a young age you could tell that Dan was going to play for Wales. He would probably have told you straight away that he was going to be a Welsh international and a British Lion.
“I am sure that is on the horizon. He has matured over the last few years and is playing so well. I think the next level was for him to dictate like that in a Welsh shirt and I think he has done that.”
Kicking king: Dan Biggar collected 13 points against Fiji before limping off the field with cramp