Carefree Wales have plenty to play for

The Wallabies have rejected the notion Wales have already played their World Cup final by beating England – as their Pool A rivals vowed to let the ball sing in this weekend’s clash.

The Welsh victory over England a fortnight ago set off a chain of events that led to the tournament hosts being knocked out before the quarter-finals for the first time ever.

It sparked wild celebrations at home and, with a Wallabies win over England the following week, guaranteed their place in the knock-out stages.

In many ways the pressure is off Warren Gatland and his injury-ravaged side, who have been told they have a license to thrill at Twickenham on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).

“Warren made a point of saying we can maybe go out and play a little bit more this weekend,” said hooker Scott Baldwin on Wednesday.

“Maybe we can let the shackles off now we’re through but he’s emphasised as well we’re here to win this group.

“That’s been our aim from the outset and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

Former Wales five-eighth Barry John wrote a column suggesting Gatland rest star goalkicker Dan Biggar and halfback Gareth Davies, with a quarter-final spot already locked up and a backline desperate to avoid any more injuries.

But veteran Wallabies winger Adam Ashley-Cooper believes Wales have plenty to play for – not least of all top spot in Pool A, which will provide the easier path to the final, with the loser on Saturday thrown into a difficult quarter-final with South Africa.

“They’re in really good shape. They played a really good game against England and were able to grind out a result,” Ashley-Cooper said of Wales.

“They came out and performed well against Fiji, a team that’s been a bogey for them in the past.

“They’re confident and their spirits are high too.

“They go out there and throw the ball around and they’ll have a nothing-to-lose attitude similar to us.

“I think they’ll probably will have looked at that game from the weekend, our game against England, and seen the opportunities that are there.

“Because there are obviously areas that we need to address and improve but we just need to make sure that were on top of that and don’t give them any opportunities.”

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