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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Wales in 'good spirits', Gareth Anscombe and Liam Williams recovering well

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Wales are in “good spirits” heading into quarter-final week against Argentina, according to physical performance head Huw Bennett, who said everyone was available for selection.

Totemic No 8 Taulupe Faletau broke his arm in the 43-19 victory over Georgia on Saturday in a “sobering stamp” for Wales and has been replaced in the 33-man squad by scrum-half Kieran Hardy.

Fly-half Gareth Anscombe also pulled up with a groin injury in the warm-up to that final pool match, while full-back Liam Williams sustained a bang on the knee.

But Bennett, a veteran of six World Cups — three as a player, three as staff, said: “The boys are recovering well. Liam was on crutches after the Georgia game but that was just a precaution.

“Gareth is also recovering well. As far as I’m aware everyone is available for selection.”

Bennett, who won 51 caps for Wales as hooker including nine World Cup appearances in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 tournaments, said the current squad were buoyant after topping Pool C.

“Everyone is in good spirits,” the 40-year-old said. “Getting 19 points from our group, topping the table, the boys are very happy with what they have accomplished.

“Now they are ready for the challenge of a quarter-final. Everything has been geared to getting to this spot where we are right now so everyone is just relishing it.”

Wales will take on Los Pumas in Marseille on Saturday, Bennett insisting they would prove fierce competitors even though their form to get there wasn’t always the best.

“They are a big physical team, passionate,” he said of Argentina, who beat Japan 39-27 on Sunday to qualify s Pool D runners-up behind England.

“They have got some X-factor players as well. It’s something the guys have been looking into already.

“I feel they are not dissimilar to some of the teams we played against in the build-up, but they will bring a bit more as well so we’ll have to be on point there.”

But the former Ospreys player insisted: “Physicality has been a strength of ours as well. That is a challenge we will be relishing.”

As head of physical performance, Bennett said up to five months work will have gone into moulding the Wales squad, with demanding pre-World Cup training camps in Switzerland and Turkey.

“This is what it’s all about really. We got together May 25,” he said.

“It gets commentated a lot regarding the odd places we’ve been to in training. That tends to come out in the changing room before a game, a reminder of all the hard work that’s been put in.

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“Now this week is not just what we are going to be doing Saturday, because as a man everyone will give everything they’ve got.

“It’s about the small things throughout the week: making sure all that work and effort, all the sacrifices that have been put in during the camps and build-up, that they count.

“It’s about getting the balance right and making sure everyone is firing going into Saturday.”


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