Assistant coach Robin McBryde has revealed a “quickening of the heartbeat” after World Cup quarter-finalists Wales successfully emerged from a so-called pool of death, leaving England as its major casualty.
Wales have started preparations for a group decider against Australia at Twickenham next Saturday.
The winners look set to face a quarter-final against Scotland or Japan, while the losers potentially have a far tougher appointment – at least on paper – with twice world champions South Africa.
“It’s all about momentum, and we’ve still got the momentum, a little bit in our sails, albeit it wasn’t the perfect performance against Fiji last week.” the forwards specialist McBryde said.
“But we are going into the weekend against Australia having been given a little bit of time to work on things.
“It wasn’t so much a sigh of relief that we have qualified for the quarter-finals, it was more of a quickening of the heartbeat thinking of what could be ahead.
“It’s no respite, just keeping on going as hard as we can.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland is not due to name his starting line-up for Australia until Thursday, but it would appear that he is on course to select from a full-strength squad.
Prop Paul James has not played since suffering a calf muscle problem during Wales’ opening game against Uruguay a fortnight ago, while full-back Liam Williams was concussed when Wales beat England 28-25 at Twickenham.
But McBryde James came through a running test and will be integrated into training sessions on Tuesday.
“Liam is obviously undergoing the concussion protocols, and as far as I am aware he is ticking all the boxes at the moment.”
Wales are currently unbeaten in the tournament, but their scrum was an area for concern against England and Fiji. In contrast, Australia’s front row has thrived, highlighted by them dominating England up front during a 33-13 triumph on Saturday.
“We’ve got to be smart,” McBryde said. “We are fully aware of the threat that Australia pose.”
“Obviously, they are benefiting from the experience of Mario Ledesma as a scrummaging coach, so there’s a certain Argentine flavour to their scrum. The challenge is there, so fortunately, we have a whole week to focus on those perceived weaknesses.
“You’re trying to get that clean strike of the ball to get it out as quickly as possible, and if you don’t get that quite right, the opposition are gunning for you and they are timing their shove on when the ball comes in, so it’s a different mindset and approach.
“Australia have certainly benefited form those changes and are scrummaging well as a unit, but for our boys as well I think we’ve got clarity on how we go about our business this week, and hopefully we will see that on Saturday.”