TOYOTA CITY, Japan (Reuters) - Wales will weather the physical and meteorological storms predicted in their opening Rugby World Cup Pool D clash against Georgia at the City of Toyota Stadium on Monday, according to assistant coach Shaun Edwards.
Wales’ build-up to the World Cup has been far from plain sailing, with three defeats in their last four tests and the off-field furor that saw attack coach Rob Howley return home from Japan for an alleged breach of rugby’s betting rules.
But Edwards says that despite this, and the predictions of wind and rain for the match, they are confident of an opening victory.
“We’ve been preparing for this for two years, we are totally focussed on the game against a formidable opponent and one we have a lot of respect for. It will be physical, but we are here to compete,” Edwards told reporters in Toyota on Sunday.
“Physically they (Georgia) look in good shape and they are big men, but so are we and we have not come here to make up the numbers.
“They have got a very inspirational captain (Mikheil Nariashvili) and he will be ready to lead his troops into battle.”
Edwards says much of the hard work is likely to be done by the pack and believes the early matches at the World Cup have illustrated the importance of set-piece dominance.
“Saturday’s rugby proved how important the line-outs and scrums were. The Southern Hemisphere teams have been driving at the line-outs, which is not the way they have traditionally played.
“Australia had a dominant scrum, Argentina did very well there as well, so it just shows that the basics of rugby are still there and a massive part of the game.”
It could become especially important if the expected rain arrives, along with gusting winds, but Edwards points to the 25-7 win over Ireland in March at a wet Cardiff as proof of his team’s proficiency to play in all weather.
“If a storm comes, there is nothing we can about that. We handled the conditions very well against Ireland when they left the roof (of the Millennium Stadium) open in the last Grand Slam game.
“We are confident of the way we can play in the wet and if it is slippery, which it potentially could be, we might have to adjust our tactics.
“It’s obviously harder to play an expansive style, but you have to be a good athlete in all conditions, that’s what is fantastic about the game of rugby.”
Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Tony Lawrence