HONG KONG: Legendary Welsh international Jonathan Davies ribbed English expectations over the 2015 World Cup, as he admitted Wales must learn to adapt their game after a disappointing Six Nations.
“As ever, everyone thinks (England) are going to win the World Cup — it’s always the case with journalists in the UK and English rugby supporters,” he told AFP on Thursday.
Even so, he said, he thinks England will play “exceptionally well” in the tournament — especially with the home advantage.
“They’ve got good players in good positions, they’ve got a very well-balanced all-round side and they’re playing with a lot of confidence,” the former dual-code player said in Hong Kong, where he was attending the Hong Kong Sevens tournament as an ambassador for World Series sponsors HSBC.
“With the home advantage they’re looking quite good at the moment.”
The eighth Rugby World Cup will be hosted by England in 2015, with eight games to be held at Wales’ Millennium Stadium. The two sides are in the same group in the tournament, with Davies predicting that whoever goes through will be ready for the knockout stages.
England have “strength and depth”, Davies said — something he argued that Wales needed to build on.
Davies said Warren Gatland’s side had been “worked out” by both England and Ireland at the Six Nations — though, he added, “ultimately they made a lot of mistakes on the day as well”.
The defending champions going in to the tournament earlier this month, Wales were defeated in Dublin and at Twickenham, although they routed Scotland on the final day of the tournament.
Nevertheless, Davies said, the Six Nations — while “disappointing” — had to be put in context. “I think it is a blip… I hope it’s a blip.”
Wales played well against both Scotland and France, he said.
“They made mistakes. They’ve got to cut those errors out, go back to basics, play with the intensity that they have been playing with.”
Gatland’s strategy, he said, was “tried and tested… that’s not the argument.
“The argument is when teams do work them out… then the players have to adapt on the field.”
It was pointless to point the finger at structure or tactics, he said.
“If you look at the great sides in the world in the past, they’re capable of adapting their game and playing two different games. Wales has to do that.”