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Coach Stephen Jones says URC under-performance did not scar Welsh players

File pic. Tomos Williams of Wales kicks the ball in the Test match against South Africa on Noovember 6, 2021. Picture: Aled Llywelyn/Huw Evans/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

File pic. Tomos Williams of Wales kicks the ball in the Test match against South Africa on Noovember 6, 2021. Picture: Aled Llywelyn/Huw Evans/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Jun 27, 2022

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Pretoria - Wales assistant coach Stephen Jones says the non-achievement of the Welsh teams in the United Rugby Championship has no bearing on how the national team will perform against the Springboks in Pretoria on Saturday.

Jones, who played over 100 games at flyhalf for Wales, says the Welsh players carry no baggage from their failed URC campaign into the three-Test series against the Boks.

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“How we went in the URC has no psychological bearing on this series, none at all,” said Jones, who was on the field for the British and Irish Lions when they lost the vital second Test to the Boks in Pretoria in 2009.

“The last six games between Wales and South Africa have been very close and the majority of our guys were here with the Lions last year and that series was extremely close, so our players are very excited about playing the Boks once more.

“We have a wonderful group of players and it has been a long time since our last game against Italy and we are chomping at the bit to get cracking in what will be an intense Test match before hopefully a sell-out crowd.

“We feel it is going to be a very special occasion and this is what we play rugby for,” Jones added.

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Wales have been roundly written off following their loss to Italy which capped a poor Six Nations, but Jones is confident his team can silence their critics.

“We have a huge amount of respect for our opponents but we have our own way of playing and we look forward to playing smartly and effectively,” Jones said.

“We know it is going to be an aerial battle and very physical at the breakdown, so we have to be very clever in how we play —  we need a balance to our game and we must play in the right areas of the park.

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“South Africa has a very good defence system so we cannot be one-dimensional — we must have variety and options to what we do.”

IOL Sport

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