Rugby World Cup 2011: Shaun Edwards urges Wales to seize chance

Shaun Edwards
The Wales defence, under Edwards' guidance, has impressed in New Zealand

Defence coach Shaun Edwards believes Wales have a fantastic opportunity to secure a place in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 24 years.

Wales, who face Ireland in the quarter-finals on Saturday, have not reached the last four since the inaugural tournament in New Zealand in 1987.

And Edwards said: "It's a moment in time you have to seize.

"Both teams will be giving 100% to try to make sure they are the team not packing their bags on Monday."

Ireland, captained by Brian O'Driscoll, secured their place in the quarter-final by topping Pool C, beating Australia on their way to four wins from four games.

In four previous quarter-final appearances, the Irish have fallen each time.

"It is a one-off chance to do something which probably I don't think any of these lads have done before, which is playing in a World Cup semi-final," added Edwards.

"I don't think even the great Brian O'Driscoll has done that."

After losing their opening game against South Africa, Wales defeated Samoa, Namibia and Fiji to secure a quarter-final spot.

Wales have a full-strength squad available for the Wellington match with James Hook, Shane Williams and Dan Lydiate declared fit for selection.

With New Zealand losing fly-half Dan Carter and South Africa having to do without Frans Steyn for the rest of the competition, Edwards is grateful Wales have escaped major injuries so far.

"Everyone is going to lose a star or key player at some time and obviously that's why your squad is so important," said Edwards.

"I think every team realises now that in such a collision-based sport you're going to pick up injuries.

"All coaches hope and pray and keep their fingers crossed that they're not going to get star players injured.

"It's a nice change for us because we had to come over here without quite a few of our star players.

"Our captain [Matthew Rees], a British Lions hooker, was having surgery on his neck and Gavin Henson obviously got injured.

"It makes a nice welcome change for us to be having a nice run with injuries. Over the last two or three years we've definitely had more than our fair share of injuries.

"It's probably come at the right time the fact that a lot of guys are available."


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).

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