Edwards warns discipline will be key
September 4, 2011
Edwards hopes to have learnt lessons from 2009 Lions tour © Getty Images
Shaun Edwards has emphasised the need for discipline ahead of Wales' opening clash of the World Cup with South Africa.
It is an area of Wales' game that showed considerable improvement during home and away World Cup warm-up fixtures against England last month, and in the final pre-tournament victory over Argentina. But if they lapse into bad habits, then South African kicking machine Morne Steyn will undoubtedly make them suffer. Despite making just 29 Test appearances, he has amassed almost 350 points.
"We are very conscious of discipline," said Wales defence coach Edwards. "It's a massive priority on our list going into each game."We know we've had problems with discipline in the past, but we have worked very hard. Against England in the away game last month, we only gave four penalties away, which is an all-time low for us.
"We conceded a few more in the return fixture, but discipline is something we stress massively within the set-up."
Of all the battles contributing towards the make-up of a potentially absorbing contest, Edwards accepts Springboks openside flanker Heinrich Brussow poses a major threat. Now fully fit after being laid low by a succession of injury troubles, the 25-year-old could return to haunt several Wales players involved in a titanic Test series between the Lions and South Africa two years ago.
Edwards, part of the Lions coaching team for that tour, added: "Brussow is a genuine world-class seven, and they are hard to come by. In 2009, the way the game was refereed then, he didn't have to release the ball when he hit the floor, which was to his advantage.
"But to his credit, he is still turning ball over under the new interpretations. He has adapted his style and technique of getting on the ball. It's going to be a big challenge for our loose forwards, but that is what you expect playing against the world champions."
Wales went close to toppling the Springboks on their last three attempts - losing 20-15, 34-31 and 29-25. But Edwards said: "I am a great believer that each game is a totally different challenge and what has happened before doesn't have much relevance on what is going to happen in the next game.
"The last three games have been close. They were all at the Millennium Stadium, which was to our advantage, but this is a whole new challenge - both teams are playing away from home. The Springboks are looking, on paper, like the team of 2009 again. They are very strong with Brussow back in and all the stars that played against the Lions.
"But that adds to the challenge and excites us even more. If we do manage to pull off a win, we will have pulled it off against a full-strength Springboks team. They are big powerful men, so we've had to work on our one-to-one tackles and look to win that battle on the advantage line, which is absolutely vital against this team.
"If you lose that battle, you are pretty much going to lose the game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery