Rugby World Cup 2011: Edwards wary of Boks' Heinrich Brussow

Heinrich Brussow
Heinrich Brussow has made 15 South Africa appearances

Shaun Edwards believes Wales' opening World Cup rivals South Africa are back to the strength that beat the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

Defence coach Edwards, Wales coach Warren Gatland and assistant Robert Howley were on the Lions coaching team for the series the Springboks won 2-1.

Edwards also highlighted flanker Heinrich Brussow as a major threat.

"The Springboks on paper are looking like the team of 2009 again," said Edwards.

"They look very strong, obviously, with Heinrich Brussow back in and all the stars that were playing against the Lions in that series.

"So that adds to the challenge and that excites us even more.

"If we do manage to pull it off, we'll have pulled it off against a full-strength Springbok team."

Wales have seven survivors with Test expereince from that 2009 tour they can call on to take on Peter de Villiers' side - forwards Adam Jones and Alun Wyn Jones and backs Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips.

Versatile James Hook was also an unused replacement for the last Test the Lions won 28-9 while Leigh Halfpenny and Andy Powell were also in the tour party.

However, Wales will be without injured prop Gethin Jenkins (calf) while fly-half Stephen Jones (calf), who also played a major part on that tour for the Lions as well as former skipper Ryan Jones (calf) are doubts for the 11 September clash in Wellington.

Edwards says Wales must counter the Springboks' driving forward play and win the gain-line battle with Brussow's influence a particular worry.

He said: "We've obviously worked on the aerial game and the aerial challenge that will come our way.

"The Africans are very, very good from set plays, very creative from first phase so we've had to work very hard on that kind of thing as well.

"But also we know that they're incredibly big, powerful men.

"So we have to work on our one-to-one tackles and win that battle on the advantage line which is obviously vital to this team.

"If you lose that battle you are pretty much going to lose that game.

"He's [Brussow] a genuine seven, a world class seven and they're very, very hard to come by and he's a real snaffler on the floor.

"But obviously in 2009 the way the game was refereed then, they didn't have to release when they hit the floor so that was to his advantage.

"But to his credit he's still turning ball over under the new interpretations so that's great credit to him as a player and he's adapted his style and his technique of getting on the ball.

"So it's going to be a big challenge for our loose forwards, but that's what you'd expect playing against the World Champions."

Wales are also emphasising discipline with Edwards accepting Gatland's side have a mixed record.

"We're very conscious of discipline and it's a massive priority on our list going into each game.

"But we know we've had problems with discipline in the past, but we've worked very, very hard."


Forwards: (16)

Props: Ryan Bevington, Adam Jones, Paul James (all Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Craig Mitchell (Exeter), Hookers: Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Ken Owens (Scarlets). Locks: Luke Charteris (Dragons), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys). Back-rows: Toby Faletau (Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Danny Lydiate (Dragons), Andy Powell (Sale Sharks), Sam Warburton (Blues, capt).

Backs: (14)

Full-backs/wings: Lee Byrne (Clermont Auvergne), Aled Brew (Dragons), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), George North (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys). Centres: Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets). Fly-halves: James Hook (Perpignan), Stephen Jones, Rhys Priestland (both Scarlets), Scrum-halves: Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Michael Phillips (Bayonne), Lloyd Williams (Blues).