Wales have withdrawn into their own bubble ahead of Wednesday’s vital World Cup match against Fiji, saying they have done their all homework on their dangerous opponents.
As a powerful typhoon charts course for Japan, Wales are in calm seas, claims forwards coach Robin McBryde.
Wins over unpredictable Fiji and minnows Uruguay would see the Six Nations champions qualify top of Pool D and set up a quarter-final with either France or England.
“We’ve created a bubble again,” said McBryde as Wales shut out distractions on the eve of the match in the southern Japanese city of Oita.
“Historically, we always get stronger the more time we spend with each other in that bubble. The environment we’re able to create allows individuals to improve their game.
“We’re aware of Fiji’s individual threats but we have had a collectiveness about our preparation. Hopefully that will be reflected in the performance.”
Ross Moriarty, promoted to the starting XV after featuring on the bench in the first two games, said they had undertaken close analysis of Fiji.
Wales suffered the consequences of taking the South Seas Islanders lightly at the 2007 World Cup, infamously losing their pool match which cost them a place in the quarter-finals.
But in Japan they have named near-enough their top line up after noting how Fiji ran Australia close in their first match.
After a shock loss to Uruguay with a short turnaround, Fiji returned to their explosive best against Georgia and No.8 Moriarty admitted it would be a “tough” encounter.
“We’ve watched the Fiji games and done our analysis on what we have to do – defence, close them down, and we know what to do on attack to get points on the board.”
McBryde, who ends a lengthy tenure as Wales assistant coach to move to Leinster after the World Cup, said the 10-day break since the tense 29-25 win over Australia had given the team a chance to recharge.
There were no injury concerns after fly-half Dan Biggar was fully cleared of any lingering issues after failing a head injury assessment in the Wallabies match.
The calmness now in the Wales camp contrasts with the turmoil five days before their first match when attack coach Rob Howley was sent home amid gambling allegations.
Head coach Warren Gatland said then it was “tough” but they had to move on, with Stephen Jones — who played in the shock loss to Fiji that ended Wales’ 2007 campaign — rushed in as Howley’s replacement.
“We’re in a better place than we have been,” McBryde added , as he singled out the Fiji scrum as an area to be targeted.
“They’re big men. Collectively, we have to work well and match them. We’re not taking anything lightly and that’s an area we’ve been focusing on after the first two games.
“When you look back to 2007, we know if we give them any opportunities, they are good enough to take them.”