Jake White believes that Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones could be destined to lift the World Cup. South Africa’s 2007 World Cup-winning coach has lavished praise on Jones ahead of Sunday’s semi-final between Wales and the Springboks in Yokohama.
Wales reached the semi-finals for a second time in the last three World Cup tournaments after scraping past France 20-19 last weekend. “There are people who are destined to pick up the World Cup,” White said. “You look at (Richie) McCaw, (Francois) Pienaar and (John) Eales.
“Now you look at Alun Wyn Jones. I really believe he can do it. He is the real deal – a great captain. I don’t think people foresaw what he would do for Welsh rugby when he started.
“He has become one of the great Welsh players of all time with what he has achieved as a British and Irish Lions captain and a Wales captain. I would say it is far beyond what even he could have dreamt of. He is the heartbeat of Wales, and if he is there, then Wales have got a chance.”
Wales were six minutes away from bowing out of the competition against France before a Ross Moriarty try and Dan Biggar conversion saw them home. And Wales’ recent record against South Africa is a strong one, having won five of the last six meetings, including four in a row.
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“South Africa have got a much tougher semi-final now, and I am sure ‘Gats’ (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) will be giving it to Wales this week, telling them they were close to going home and they had better get it right this weekend.
“Wales will also have learnt from the (semi-final) loss to France in 2011. The fact they were so pushed to beat France means they will get a massive amount of confidence from that. Looking at Dan Biggar’s body language when they won, the way he reacted and got the crowd going, that’s why I think Wales can do it. They’ve had South Africa’s number for a while.
“Everyone will have done their homework on who they would have wanted to play in the run-up to the final, and Japan put the spoke into that for a few teams, but Wales would have always known they would get South Africa in the semi-final.
Justin Tipuric shuns the limelight but he has been a beacon of excellence at this @rugbyworldcup. Sunday could be his defining moment for Wales.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 23, 2019
“As a coach, what I would fear as a South Africa coach is that Wales weren’t great last weekend, but they got over the line. That means a lot when you are looking for momentum.
“South Africa have had it easy so far. They will know that. The only time they have been tested, they lost against New Zealand, so it’s difficult to say what they have been like. They have been good enough to win the other games, but the real test comes now.
“These semi-final weeks are tough. But as a coach it is what you want, you want to give players the chance to produce on the world stage and win something. This is what all the work you’ve put in for the last four years comes down to.
“There is no doubt ‘Gats’ will want to end (his time as Wales head coach) with the ultimate. He has won Grand Slams, Six Nations titles, taken Wales to number one in the world, but this would be the cherry on the cake for him.”
– Press Association
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