Support our Nation today - please donate here

Wales take heed of France-Uruguay battle as they prepare for minnows Portugal

15 Sep 2023 4 minute read
Wales defence coach Mike Forshaw during the press conference at the Stade de Nice, France. Photo David Davies PA Images

Mike Forshaw says Wales will pay heed to Uruguay’s odds-defying display against France when they tackle Rugby World Cup minnows Portugal on Saturday.

Uruguay, despite being ranked 17th in the world, produced an outstanding performance before going down to a 27-12 defeat.

They denied Les Bleus a bonus point and will undoubtedly provide inspiration for fellow World Cup underdogs such as Portugal, Chile and Namibia.

Wales are expected to brush aside Patrice Lagisquet’s team in the countries’ first meeting for 29 years.

“We will reference the French game. It is very important we get messages from that,” Wales assistant coach and defence specialist Forshaw said.

“We have to do our basics well and give them the respect they deserve, but we want to impose ourselves on this team.

“We know every game is going to be tough, and nothing changes in our preparation.

“If you look at their backs they have got quite a few sevens players, they play that coast-to-coast game, so we will have to cut that supply off with our defence and our urgency to take space from them.

“They have similar threats to the Fijians, so we have to be right on it.”

Wales boss Warren Gatland has made 13 changes from the team that defeated Fiji 32-26 in Bordeaux last weekend.

Only wing Louis Rees-Zammit and number eight Taulupe Faletau remain from that line-up, with four players – Mason Grady, Johnny Williams, skipper Dewi Lake and Christ Tshiunza – making their World Cup debuts.

A second successive bonus-point win would keep Wales firmly on course for the quarter-finals – their minimum return from the last three World Cups.

Record wins

Gatland, meanwhile, will set a new World Cup record of 16 wins as a coach, going one above Australia head coach Eddie Jones, if Wales triumph.

Gatland has only overseen three pool-stage defeats in World Cup history, against Australia 24 years ago when he was Ireland boss, then South Africa in 2011 with Wales and against the Wallabies again four years later.

Wales made more than 240 tackles to repel Fiji, and although rain is forecast on the French Riviera this weekend, it is their attacking game that should now flourish..

Centre Williams said: “It is a good opportunity for us to show what we are about in attack. Our attitude and intent doesn’t change this week, but hopefully with less tackles.

“It was a hell of a win against Fiji – we put in a serious effort. Watching from the stands, I was seriously gutted to be missing out as it was such an amazing game and an amazing atmosphere.

“I get my chance this week, as a few other boys do. Just because we have made changes that doesn’t mean anything changes in terms of how we play, the intensity and physicality we want to play with.”

For Wales flanker Dan Lydiate, Saturday’s game represents the start of his third World Cup, 12 years after the first.

“It is my third World Cup, and I am really chuffed to be here, just looking forward to getting on the grass on Saturday,” Lydiate said.

“You feel the bumps a bit more, the older you get. It is part of the gig, it is what you signed up for. If you love something you keep going as long as you can.

“Four years ago I wasn’t selected for the World Cup. You think ‘is your time done’? But you just keep your head down and keep cracking on.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.