Clerc impressed by Wales
October 12, 2011
France wing Vincent Clerc was full of praise for Wales and in particular his opposite number Shane Williams © Getty Images
France wing Vincent Clerc accepts his side will have their hands full in Saturday's Rugby World Cup semi-final clash against Wales at Eden Park.
Les Bleus are chasing their third World Cup Final appearance having graced the ultimate stage in the inaugural tournament in 1987 and again 12 years later but are still yet to lift the Webb Ellis Cup having been beaten by New Zealand and then Australia.
The form book suggests they may get another chance having won six of the last seven meetings with Wales but the jet-heeled Clerc is taking nothing for granted.
"The Welsh team has had some great matches in this tournament," he said. "We must not rest on our laurels. The Welsh team has been very strong, although they have weaknesses, and we are looking to target those weaknesses. They have some very strong, dynamic players. They are a real class act - we love playing against them."
Clerc added: "The Welsh team have progressed and along with the All Blacks, they have played the best rugby in this tournament. They always seem to find a way out of every situation. They get the ball back efficiently even when they are pushed back."
The Toulouse veteran has been good form during this year's tournament and is currently sitting alongside England's Chris Ashton as the tournament's top scorer with six tries, yet he reserved special praise for his opposite number, Shane Williams. "Shane is an exceptional player, very explosive and athletic," said Clerc.
"He is everywhere round the pitch. His finishing from all areas of the pitch is outstanding. It's difficult to defend against a player who is small but still very strong. He is always looking for space, everywhere on the pitch. He is an all-round player, more than just a finisher, and can make the difference. Wales as a whole are a real class act. They like to pass the ball and so do we."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown