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'All of the players want to show they deserve to be at this World Cup'

By PA
Patrice Lagisquet, Head Coach of Portugal, poses for a portrait during the Portugal Rugby World Cup 2023 Squad photocall on September 05, 2023 in Perpignan, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Portugal will carry degrees of optimism and realism with them when they return to the Rugby World Cup stage on Saturday.

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Their first World Cup appearance for 16 years sees a testing opener against Wales at Stade de Nice.

Wales are fresh from a bonus-point victory over Pool C rivals Fiji, and they know that another five-pointer would strengthen their quarter-final ambitions.

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The countries’ one previous meeting saw Wales win a 1995 World Cup qualifier 102-11 in Lisbon when they scored 16 tries.

Portugal, though, have improved considerably since then, beating the United States 46-20 last month as part of their tournament preparations after finishing top of the repechage qualifying competition in Dubai.

“Everybody is not expecting Portugal to qualify for the quarter-final,” Portugal head coach and former France wing Patrice Lagisquet said.

“But all of the players want to show they deserve to be at this World Cup and that they can play good rugby.

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“I just want to help the players give their best in their World Cup. I can’t compare to when I was a player – they weren’t born, they don’t care about that.”

Asked if Portugal could topple Wales, Lasgisquet added: “I don’t have a crystal ball. We have to try to play our best and show that we have improved in the key areas of the game.

“We try to have no weakness, but it is really difficult when you play a team like Wales who played in the semi-final of the last World Cup.”

Portugal captain Tomas Appleton, meanwhile, said: “We want to inspire young kids to play and grow rugby in Portugal.

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“Every young kid, every young generation needs a team to look up to and a team that wins and gets results.

“To be present at a Rugby World Cup is the best result we could get.

“It is a long way for us to go to be at their (Wales’) level. We are confident we are going to show our best rugby, but we know the reality.”

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Michael 27 minutes ago
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