Rugby World Cup 2011: Wales can put Namibia to sword - Lee Byrne

Lee Byrne
Lee Byrne made his Wales debut against New Zealand in 2005

Lee Byrne believes Wales can secure a big win against minnows Namibia in the World Cup in New Plymouth on Monday.

The full-back, 31, makes his World Cup debut admitting Wales have historically struggled to live up to expectations against such opponents.

He said: "Sometimes in the past, we have struggled against lesser teams we should expect to beat.

"But the squad we have got now has the talent to put countries like Namibia to the sword."

Byrne is one of 11 changes to a side under pressure to secure a bonus-point win at Stadium Taranaki ahead of the final round of Pool D games.

However, the Clermont Auvergne-bound former Osprey starts following an injury-hit tournament build-up and after former captain Gwyn Jones criticised his recent form.

"For some people, it could be their last game of the World Cup if they don't deliver," said Byrne.

"So we all know what is at stake."

Byrne had only 57 minutes of tournament warm-up action, when Wales saw off Argentina in August.

Hook replaced his fellow former Osprey in that game and wore the 15 jersey for the 17-16 defeat by South Africa and 17-10 win over Samoa.

Leigh Halfpenny came off when Hook suffered his latest shoulder injury and turned the game in Wales' favour with a counter-attack that led to Shane Williams's winning try.

Samoa have since gone on to beat Fji, who Wales face on Sunday 2 October, 27-7 but without registering a bonus point.

That leaves Samoa second behind their last Pool D opponents, defending champions South Africa, in the race for quarter-final places.

Byrne said: "It is nice to be back playing again.

"It's all about game-time. The more time I get on the pitch, the better I play.

"With 'Hooky' being out it's a big opportunity for me, and I have got to make the most of the chance.

"I have enjoyed being part of the squad, but there is only so much training you can do. You want to be involved in the match 22, so it's great to have been picked."

Byrne, a 2009 British and Irish Lion in South Africa, has won 44 caps, but is one of nine players in the Welsh starting line-up who will make their World Cup debuts.

"I was just so happy to have made the squad for the tournament, but now I have been given the chance I don't want to disappoint against Namibia," he added.

"Of course it's a massive opportunity for me. Maybe there is a position to grab for the next few weeks. I have been waiting for this.

"I want to challenge for a place in the team for the rest of the tournament. I want to put a marker down for the Fiji game.

"The boys who played [against South Africa and Samoa] have laid down a marker, and we can't disappoint them with a sub-standard performance

"It was a bit frustrating not playing in the earlier games, but I never give up hope.

"There was always a chance I would get picked and I am really looking forward to the match."

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