Welsh Rugby
Rees warns World Cup hopefuls
ESPNscrum Staff
July 27, 2011

Wales captain Matthew Rees insists reputations will not be enough to secure a place in the final 30-man squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The Welsh squad arrived back in Cardiff on Tuesday afternoon following a gruelling boot-camp in Spala, Poland. Despite the harshness of the regime, Rees believes the coaches got the schedule "spot on". With World Cup places up for grabs, the Scarlets hooker - who captained Wales during the 2011 Six Nations - claims competition is hotting up for the golden ticket of a place in Warren Gatland's final squad.

"Warren and the coaches need to pick their final 30 before New Zealand and I know the boys have made it difficult for them," Rees said. "There have been no egos, no one relying on reputation and the competition right across the squad has been intense.

"The younger players have pushed hard, but the senior boys have made sure they have put their hands up to and everyone to a man has done what has been asked of them. We are a stronger unit for it and should take confidence, but now we must perform."

After strong performances from some of the younger members of the group during last season's Celtic League - centre Scott Williams was a shock call-up to the training squad - well known figures such as Ryan Jones are by no means sure of a place on the plane to New Zealand. But Wales' players have three opportunities to prove to the selectors that they are worthy of a spot with back-to-back warm-ups against England and a further Test against Argentina.

"The biggest thing for us now is to make sure that we go into the World Cup full of confidence and self belief because we have performed on the rugby field," Rees said. "We owe it to the fans and we owe it to ourselves after all the hard work we have put in over the last few weeks.

"We have two fixtures now against England and a final match on home soil against Argentina where we need to go out and play. This is a talented and dedicated bunch of lads and we enjoy our rugby and, hopefully, that will show out on the pitch."

Wales open their World Cup campaign on September 11 against the reigning champions South Africa in Wellington. And Rees is looking to the warm-up games to kick-start their journey - with the goal of winning their maiden Webb Ellis Cup - on the right note. "We know South Africa's strengths, but we have ability and guile throughout this squad and we need to go into that first game brimming with confidence based on these August warm-up fixtures."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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