Charteris backs Wales against Boks
August 24, 2011
Charteris will hope to be rewarded with a starting spot for Wales in the World Cup © Associated Press
Wales' Luke Charteris believes they will reap the rewards of their grueling preparations come the World Cup.
The Newport Gwent Dragons second-row has made head coach Warren Gatland's 30-man squad for the global showpiece in New Zealand, with Wales drawn in the tournament's toughest pool along with the Springboks, Samoa, Fiji and Namibia. Pessimists within the Welsh game are fearful of there being another first-round exit to follow similar failures in 1991, 1995 and 2007, with the games against the South Sea Island nations being looked upon as potential stumbling blocks.
But Gatland and company begin their campaign against the reigning champions in Wellington on September 11, with confidence buoyed by warm-up wins over England and Argentina. Wales have run South Africa close in the past three meetings between the sides, and Charteris believes a tough conditioning programme - including two camps in Spala, Poland - have set the men in red up for a potential upset and a lengthy run in the tournament.
"We can go in (to the South Africa game) with a lot of confidence in our conditioning and physicality," he said. "In years gone by we have always competed with the southern hemisphere teams but faded in last 20 minutes, and we want to change that.
"The massive confidence boost with our conditioning is now we know we can compete with these teams over 80 minutes. We know it does not matter how well you play or how close you get, if you lose, you lose and you feel it.
"It will not matter if we win by one point or 20 points, it's a World Cup and you have to get the win. Starting with South Africa, they are a big scalp, and if we get a good win there it will give us confidence for three other tough games.
"If we do that we can win the pool and that would set us up well for the quarters."
One area Wales will need to improve on if they are to pose a strong threat in New Zealand is at the line-out. The set-piece has hamstrung Welsh efforts in recent years, and it will face a stern test against the Springbok pairing of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.
But 6ft 9in giant Charteris, who will battle Bradley Davies and Alun Wyn Jones for a starting berth, expects the line-out to go strongly. "In the main we have a really good line-out," he said. "In the first warm-up game against England we had a new team, the second week was a bit better as most of the boys had played together before and knew each other, and against Argentina the pack changed a lot again and there were new boys in there.
"Sometimes in situations like that you can get rusty, but it's not big things, it's just little mistakes that cost us. The boys all know each other now and that should iron out a lot of those problems, and with the players we have we expect to have a good functioning line-out."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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