Louw excited by Wales future
June 2, 2012
Francois Louw (right) and Shane Williams (centre) were unable to stop Wales coming back from behind to beat the Barbarians © Getty Images
The Barbarians' Francois Louw has said he cannot wait to see how good a team Wales becomes in the next few years after losing to them at the Millennium Stadium.
Despite Wales finishing with a 30-21 win, the Bath flanker was voted man of the match in an entertaining contest in which the hosts were forced to come back from 21-16 down to win. Next up for caretaker coach Rob Howley is a three-Test tour to Australia. A squad of 16 left for Brisbane last Thursday, with a further 18 set to join them in the next few days.
"It is a great side coming through and some of the boys really stepped up to the plate tonight and showed what they can bring to the table," Louw told BBC Wales. "When they get together with the other boys this year they should be a formidable side and I'm really looking forward to seeing them play."
The Barbarians were left to look back and rue the decision to pass up a penalty kick that would have put them more than seven points in front. They then had to watch James Hook and Aled Brew run in tries that gave Wales the victory.
"I suppose in hindsight if we had taken it we could have been further ahead, but that isn't the Barbarians style of rugby. We want to throw the ball around and play attacking rugby."
Hook was the catalyst for Wales' comeback and guided a young team featuring four debutants to an impressive victory. He started the match at inside-centre, but then moved to fly-half when Dan Biggar went off with 14 minutes remaining. The Perpignan playmaker then outpaced French flyer Cedric Heymans to score a try in the corner and he held his nerve to kick a touchline conversion to give Wales a lead that they held until the final whistle.
"It was a pretty good performance all over, not only for ourselves, but it was important to get a win to take with us to Australia next week," Hook said. "It (his try) was a long run in and I was just glad I got over and got in the corner. I could see Cedric covering and Aled on my shoulder, but I was just able to get over."
After the match Howley revealed that Hook would be back up fly-half to first choice Rhys Priestland on tour, with Biggar remaining behind in Wales. Despite Biggar helping the Ospreys to the RaboDirect PRO12 title, Hooks greater versatility gave him the edge.
"Dan has been one of the form players in the RaboDirect Pro12. He has been in our environment over the last year and for longer," Howley said. "But James Hook, in terms of the two 10s and the schedule we have got, can play, 10, 12, 13 and 15 and when you are going on a tour of the magnitude of going to the other side of the world to Australia you need flexibility of selection. It is no reflection on Dan's form. Dan over the last four months has played particularly well for the Ospreys."
The match also provided Martyn Williams with a farewell to the Welsh public. The flanker came on early in the second half for his 100th Welsh cap and was his usual busy self at the breakdown. True to form he left the pitch with a bloodied nose that showed how much he needed to be involved against a world-class Barbarians team.
"There are world-class players throughout that side, World Cup winners, they had a competitive spirit, but fair play to our boys they wouldn't have played together much and they got the win in the end," he said. "I'll be up there watching this time next year. It hasn't sunk in yet, it's been a pretty emotional day."
His namesake and fellow Welsh international Shane Williams also bade farewell to the Millennium Stadium crowd. Unlike his final appearance in Welsh colours against Australia last December he was unable to grab a late try for the Barbarians.
At the final whistle he was adamant that he would not be tempted to return to action. "I'm retired from rugby, it was my last, last game," he said.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape