While coach Warren Gatland says the disappointment of a historic loss against Georgia will not factor into the World Cup rematch on Saturday, a victory will clinch Pool C and confirm the resurgence of hard-working Wales.
Wales won their three opening matches to become the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals, having started with a 32-26 victory over Fiji before seeing off Portugal 28-8 and sailing past Australia 40-6.
Meanwhile, Georgia are yet to win in France after a 35-15 opening loss to Australia, an 18-18 draw with Portugal and narrowly going down 17-12 to Fiji last week. However, they have shown signs of the team that toppled Wales in Cardiff last November with a stunning 13-12 victory, and there are 15 survivors in this week’s match-day 23 from the win 11 months ago, including 11 in the starting XV.
“Georgia are a tough team to put away,” said Gatland, who was not at the helm of Wales for the historic defeat last year. “We’re not looking back. We’re only looking forward. We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made. We’re excited about where we are.”
Gatland has been the mastermind in reviving the Red Dragons since returning to the job with Wales ranked eighth in the world and facing problems on and off the field.
“I think there were a lot of things happening off the field and they obviously had a significant impact that I probably didn’t realise at the time,” he said. “There is a line in the sand under that and the focus in this group has been about the rugby and building confidence.
“They have worked incredibly hard and I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of what this group has put in so I think making a comment or statement like that is about the confidence from not only what I say but from how hard they have worked.
“If we go in there and implement the game plan and have self belief then we know we are a tough team to beat.”
Photo: Romain Perrocheau/AFP