Edwards: Wales need more time to gel

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards says his side's limited preparation contributed to a poor performance against the Springboks. JON CARDINELLI reports.

The Boks won the first Test against Wales in Durban last Saturday by 38-16. The Dragons were desperately poor, conceding five tries and scoring just one.

The odds are against them bouncing back in the decisive game of the series in Nelspruit this coming Saturday, not only because Wales have never won a Test on South African soil, but because the current side does not believe they are in a position to do so.

On Tuesday, Edwards, the team's defence coach, revealed that Wales went into the Test at Kings Park undercooked. He lamented that Wales hadn't spent enough time together as a group in preparation for a series of this magnitude.

'We only trained together once last week,' he said. 'I don't want to make excuses, but it's not ideal preparation against one of the best sides in the world.

'For example, I hadn't seen a player like Jonathan Davies for three months [Wales concluded their Six Nations campaign in March]. If you look at the periods where we were successful, we had enough time together beforehand. We did well at the 2011 World Cup, and that was because we spent enough time planning and preparing as a group.

'I don't know if it's going to change, it seems that [the period in the build-up to a World Cup] is the only time we will spend some time together. It's a problem for teams in the northern hemisphere.'

Davies admitted that the Wales defence let themselves down in last week's match against the Boks.

'We conceded some soft tries, we really didn't make the Boks work hard enough for those five-pointers,' Davies said. 'We've spoken about the next game and how we have to shut them down a lot quicker, especially a guy like Willie le Roux.'

Le Roux scored a try and made two more for the Boks in Durban. He was a threat whether he was carrying the ball in the wider channels, or attempting to fracture that Welsh defence via a chip kick into space.

While Edwards agreed that Le Roux had played a blinder, he lamented the fact that the Bok fullback was allowed so many attacking opportunities within the Welsh 22. The tourists' ploy to unsettle Le Roux with a series of garryowens also failed, as Le Roux plucked every single one of those kicks out of the sky.

'How would I deal with Le Roux? Lock him in the toilet before kick-off,' Edwards joked, before adopting a more serious tone.

'I've always been a fan of him, he's a thinking man's player. We probably won't kick anywhere near him this weekend. And we can't give him or the Boks as a team so many chances.

'They were in our 22 for a total of nine minutes [in the first Test], which is a record, it has never happened against us before. If we want to beat them this week, we will have to play as much rugby as possible in their half of the field.'

Head coach Warren Gatland is expected to make several changes ahead of the second Test in Nelspruit. The Wales team to play South Africa at the Mbombela Stadium will be announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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Jon Cardinelli