WALES WILL RESPECT BUT NOT FEAR SOUTH AFRICA
Wales team manager Alan Phillips has declared that while his team respects South Africa the Springboks hold no fear for them as opponents.
He said the Wales players and coaches are pleased the South Africans will be their first opponents in Rugby World Cup 2011.
Phillips said: “It’s the right time for us to play them but we will never lose sight of the fact that they are a formidable outfit.
“There’s no fear now. We respect them and although they haven’t had a good run this is the Rugby World Cup so we know what to expect.
“I am sure they also respect us but right now we are focusing on preparing our own game. The results have been close the last few times we have played them and that is going to help our confidence.”
The team manager said the Wales summer training schedule had proved to be a major boost for the squad.
He said: “There is no doubt the training in Poland helped us, not just physically but mentally as well. It toughened up our squad. We tried to break them but they kept coming back for more.
“After that the big bonus for us was the summer results because they have helped boost our confidence. There’s no doubt this squad believes they can do something special.”
He said the serious focus on the Springbok game will commence in Tuesday training sessions as the coaches focus on the encounter ahead.
He revealed that post arrival training sessions were far tougher than he expected as players showed their competitive edge early in the campaign.
He said: “I have been surprised how hard we trained over the weekend and that’s because the competition in this squad is excellent. There is no doubt that if we start playing well we will just start getting better and better.
“We’ve got a young group of players here all putting pressure on the more senior members of the squad.
“Only the other day Gethin Jenkins remarked to me how the personnel has changed because now the young players outnumber the older group.”
Phillips has now attended three Rugby World Cup competitions as a manager and played in the original competition in 1987.
He praised the mood in the Welsh squad and pinpointed the creation of a Wales squad choir as a sign of how the team is “tight” as a group.
Phillips revealed: “I never thought we would get a big group of players like this getting together as a choir. They’ve been practising in the team room and even on the bus to get it right and that’s been great to see.
“The boys sang at the Maori welcome and it was really appreciated by the crowd. This is a big step forward.”