Injury-ravaged Wales have insisted on maintaining the physical intensity of their training sessions ahead of Thursday’s crunch Pool A match against Fiji.
Coach Warren Gatland lost three of his best players before the World Cup kicked off in Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb, and has had to replace another three backs ruled out through injury — Cory Allen, Hallam Amos and Scott Williams.
A crippling injury list by any team’s standards with strength in depth at international level at a real premium.
But forwards coach Robin McBryde insisted Wednesday that there had been no easing off in training despite the injury count.
“There is that,” the former Wales hooker admitted when asked whether each training session brought up the thought of more debilitating injuries.
“You can’t go about it half-arsed really. We know what works for us with training.
“We’ve been unlucky with injuries so far. Not one of those injuries has happened on the training field. Injuries happen in the grey area of how much intensity in a session. It’s full on or not at all. Injuries occur when at 50 or 70 per cent.”
Gatland sent out a clear warning to his squad following the team’s stunning 28-25 victory over England at Twickenham at the weekend, a result which if allied with victory over Fiji would move them to the brink of qualification for the quarter-finals.
Gatland said his players had received “a bit of a rocket” because training on Tuesday was “a bit lighter”.
“I said ‘If I see any body language or anything that’s not right, I will change you’,” said the Kiwi coach.
McBryde said Gatland’s “rocket” was exactly the right thing to have done.
“That’s a clear message Warren gave the squad that if anyone not giving their all then they would be substituted. That gave everyone the right message for the training session yesterday,” McBryde said.
“We benefited from having intensity in our sessions. For us as coaches we promised players the sessions are as short as possible if intensity is there. That was the case yesterday.”
Gatland has been forced into three enforced changes following the injuries that ended tournament involvement for Williams (knee) and Amos (shoulder), Tyler Morgan taking over at centre and Alex Cuthbert moving onto the wing. At full-back, Matthew Morgan is named in place of the concussed Liam Williams while recalled utility back James Hook is on the bench.