Wales have potential to beat Boks – Shaun Edwards
WALES defence coach Shaun Edwards insists his team have the potential to topple the mighty Springboks this Saturday – but they must perform at the very top of their game.
The rugby league legend believes Wales will have to play as well as they did in beating France in Paris and destroying England on their way to retaining the Six Nations title last season.
And he also pointed to the British and Irish Lions’ 41-16 hammering of Australia to clinch the Test series 2-1 in Sydney this July as further inspiration, the victors featuring 10 Welshmen in the starting XV with Justin Tipuric coming on as a replacement.
“If we can get to the levels of the form we showed against France, England and of the third Test against the Lions, we will be close,” Edwards said.
“We have managed it three times this year. Against France when everyone was telling us we weren't very good, we managed a very tough hard fought win.
“The England game was what it was and the Welsh players involved in that third Test, the Australians were chasing shadows in the last 20 minutes.”
But the 46-year-old Wigan and Great Britain star knows Wales will be in for a battle royal against a South Africa side he greatly admires.
“Probably the best team I have ever coached against was the South African team of 2009 (as part of the Lions staff) although there have been some great New Zealand sides since then,” Edwards said.
“That South African team beat New Zealand three times in the same season.
“This is the best South African team I have faced since and Heyneke Meyer (Springboks coach) has done a great so we know what we are going up against.”
Edwards is predicting a colossal showdown at the Millennium Stadium this weekend.
“If you like your rugby gladiatorial, then get a ticket for Saturday because this will be no place for the faint-heated,” he said.
“We have to muscle up against these boys. We practice our tackling a lot but we certainly have been concentrating on that this week.
“South Africa are also a skilful team as well and they are not just based on power which they proved by scoring four tries against the All Blacks last time they played.
“They play with a lot of width as well so they have a lot of options but we will definitely have to measure up their physicality.”
The last time the two sides met, back in September 2011, Wales were desperately unlucky to lose 17-16 after dominating most of the match.
“I watched the World Cup game the other day,” Edwards said. “It just shows the small margins at elite level sport.
“I would have been a lot more worried if we had lost that match by 30 points than just losing by one.
“We have had some close calls with South Africa over the years and there has only been a few lapses of concentration.
“We are missing a couple of our strike players in Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert who will be missed but we have a couple of players to come in.”
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