World Cup warm-up: Wales fear injuries against Italy, says Edwards

Shaun Edwards
Shaun Edwards was head coach at Wasps from 2005 to 2011
Rugby World Cup warm-up: Wales v Italy
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: 5 September Kick-off: 17:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two Wales, iPlayer, the BBC Sport website, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru

Injuries are Wales' biggest fear in their final World Cup warm-up against Italy in Cardiff.

Wales start their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on 20 September, before playing England, Fiji and Australia.

Defence coach Shaun Edwards says the warm-up games were a necessary evil as teams prepare for a "massive occasion".

"We do want momentum, but we're keeping fingers crossed about injuries because it would be a travesty to get someone injured so late," he said.

"But in the end you need match practise otherwise you're going to be undercooked going into what will be a massive occasion.

Like this? Read these...
History beckons for Coleman's Wales
North bids to repeat Six Nations form
Fans can get "carried away" - Coleman

"It's a necessary evil in a way that you have to have pre-season games. But it's more important at World Cup time when you have to peak in September and October... because you can't recover from a slow start."

Wales had a scare in their last warm-up game against Ireland when lock Alun Wyn Jones suffered a knee injury.

Jamie Roberts is treated during Wales' 16-10 win in Ireland
Jamie Roberts received a blow to the ribs during Wales' 16-10 win over Ireland

However, head coach Warren Gatland said Jones should be fit in time for the tournament along with long-term injury victims prop Samson Lee and back Liam Williams.

High tempo rugby for long periods

Edwards added Wales were aiming to test their own and Italy's fitness by keeping the ball in play for a s long as possible in Cardiff.

"We are looking for a good, fast and hopefully high ball-in-play-time rugby," he said.

"That's something we're trying to concentrate on - keeping that ball in play.

"Against Ireland it was up to 44 minutes which was one of our best efforts and we're aiming to get that up to 45, 46 or 47 minutes [and] that would be the best we've ever had."

Alain Roland issues a red card to Sam Warburton during the 2011 World Cup semi final in Auckland
Alain Roland dismissed Sam Warburtion after 17 minuters of the 2011 World Cup semi final against France

Bitter memories of 2011

Centre Jamie Roberts, who is not playing against Italy, has said he is still "haunted" by Wales' 9-8 defeat by France in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup.

Wales played two thirds of the game with 14 players following the dismissal of captain Sam Warburton by referee Alain Rolland for a tip-tackle on wing Vincent Clerc.

Edwards agreed that experience was still raw.

"I've said a number of times there's still a little bitterness from the last World Cup," he said.

"Mr Roland gave a decision against us... he thought it was the right thing to do.

"It's something [an offence] I've noticed recently it's regularly given as a yellow card, they go to the video referee.

"But it's not a criticism of Alain Rolland. He's one of the world's best referees, we've won many a game when he's been in charge, it's just we had a big decision go against us.

"You don't get many chances to get in World Cup finals and it is still a bitter feeling, a bitter taste."

Top Stories