Wales coach Warren Gatland watches his team play Fiji last Friday. Photo: WalesOnline
After surviving what he called the “group of hell,” Wales coach Warren Gatland was scathing of a Rugby World Cup draw that was based on rankings three years ago and resulted in his team ending up in Pool A with two-time champion Australia, 2003 winner England, and Fiji, a team that easily could have contended for the quarterfinals.
England’s back-to-back losses to Wales and Australia meant a host team became the first to miss out on the quarterfinals. Gatland, a New Zealander, was stuck between a rock and a hard place while watching the game at Twickenham on Saturday — needing Australia to beat England to ensure the pool would be decided before his Wales team meets the Wallabies next week, which came with the unpalatable concept of being a Kiwi supporting his archrival Aussies in a sporting contest.
Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar (right) celebrates one of his penalty kicks with Lloyd Williams in their 28-25 win over England on Sunday. Photo: WalesOnline
Wales’ defence coach Shaun Edwards believes it is unlikely that key players will be rested when they play Fiji on Wednesday.
The Welsh are coming off a bruising encounter against England where the battle of the boot saw Dan Biggar guide them to victory.
However, Edwards revealed that Wales cannot rest on their laurels and he is expecting coach Warren Gatland to name a strong line-up for their clash against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium on Thursday.
Nemani Nadolo in action against Australia at Millennium Stadium last Saturday. Photo: Gallo Images
Fiji’s disciplinary problems are mounting as star wing Nemani Nadolo faces a World Cup judicial hearing today.
Following losses to Australia and England, Fiji are desperate to salvage some pride against a Wales side buoyed by their stunning 28-25 victory over England inspired by a kicking masterclass from flyhalf Dan Biggar.
Winger Hallam Amos in pain during the match against England at Twickenham. Photo: Huw Evans/Rex Shutterstock
Wales, who have already lost four players from their World Cup squad, are set to have to replace two more before Thursday’s match against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium.
Saturday night’s victory over England, which saw them score their highest number of points at Twickenham – 105 years after their first match there – came at a cost with the centre Scott Williams taken off the field on a stretcher with a knee injury and wing Hallam Amos suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder. In addition, the full-back Liam Williams was concussed after being kicked in the head and has to follow the return-to-play protocol.
Gatland says the pressure will be on England if Wales beat Fiji. Photo: Getty Images
Wales face the Pacific Islanders on Thursday after their bruising 28-25 win over the hosts at Twickenham.
England then face Australia two days later.
“If we beat Fiji we’ll put quite a bit of pressure on England I suppose because they’ll have to beat Australia,” said Gatland, who has three fresh injury worries.
Coach Stuart Lancaster’s three-quarters against Fiji average just 19 caps each, while their opposite numbers in the All Blacks are likely to boast 62
YOUNG GUNS: Fly-half Five eighth George Ford and winger Anthony Watson go through their paces in training. Photo: World Rugby
LONDON – England have selected what is expected to be the most inexperienced first-choice back line of the major teams at the Rugby World Cup 2015 for Friday’s opening game against Fiji.
Coach Stuart Lancaster on Monday announced the same starting XV that beat Ireland earlier this month in their final warm-up game for the Pool A clash at Twickenham. The only change is on the bench where hooker Rob Webber replaces Jamie George.
Halfback Nick Phipps struggled against the US Eagles in Chicago. Photo: SMH
Now they are finally in England, the Wallabies can ready themselves for their dive into Pool A – Australia, England, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay – a shark-infested ocean of death for three of the teams.
In previous World Cup tournaments, a top side like the Wallabies, No.2 in the rankings, could ease through the pool rounds. They could hold back plays and sometimes players for the knockout stages. They could even lose a game, or two, as France did in New Zealand in 2011. But the terrible conjunction of four of the five teams in Pool A being in the top 10 of the World Rugby rankings means every Wallabies match from September 23 onwards, aside from the walk-over against Uruguay, has to be regarded as a knockout.