Howley demands Wales smarten up their act
June 11, 2012
Caretaker coach Rob Howley believe his side need to play to the referee's strengths if they are to make a success of their current tour © Getty Images
Caretaker boss Rob Howley has demanded that his side are more "streetwise" when they attempt to get their tour back on track against the Brumbies on Tuesday night.
Howley watched an uncharacteristically error-prone Wales slip to a 17-19 defeat to Australia in their tour opener in Brisbane last Saturday and believes a similarly sloppy display could lead to another setback against their Super Rugby rivals in Canberra.
"We have to be more streetwise and adaptable. You have to play to the referee's strengths," said Howley. "We weren't streetwise enough in the contact area in the first Test and that is something we are looking at this week. The contact area is the most important area in the game because of turnovers at the tackle area.
"We weren't as efficient as we should have been in our support systems and we weren't as effective in removing the threats as we should have been. That's something we have to address."
The Brumbies have been a revelation in this year's battle for Super Rugby honours under the guidance of former Springboks coach Jake White and have twice beaten Wales. Howley is all too aware of the threat they pose having been on the wrong end of a 69-30 upset as Wales' scrum-half in their 1996 meeting.
"They had a pretty potent back line in 1996 and beat us with 60-odd points. This season they have been a surprise package in the Super 15," said Howley. "They kick a lot and go to the air a lot, so our back three will have to work hard. But this is an opportunity for these players to play in the national jersey and push their claims for Test places.
"On a lot of tours the midweek side becomes very important in terms of attitude and this group were out training a 9am the morning after the first Test. Some of the boys are backing up, but we are confident in our fitness and where we are with this team because they had a game against the Barbarians. Competition for places has been a big ingredient in our performances of late and we have a good blend of experience with youth in the side."
Melbourne Rebels skipper Gareth Delve will be among the replacements having replaced the injured Toby Faletau who is now heading home. However, Howley is confident that his other fitness doubts - wing George North (dead leg) and centre Scott Williams (facial injury) - will be fit for selection for the second Test in Melbourne.
"They are minor injuries. We are hoping George might train on Monday afternoon and Scott on Thursday after a rest day on Wednesday," said Howley.
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