Henry asks for more ahead of Twickenham test
February 20, 2000
Wales coach Graham Henry has dusted-down his pre-World Cup mantra as he tries to establish just where Wales now rank in world rugby union.
The New Zealander spent much of the build-up to last year's tournament insisting that his team were improving but still a long way from challenging the southern hemisphere nations.
After 10 wins in a row came three successive defeats, to Samoa, Australia and France, and Saturday's 47-16 victory over Italy has done little to clarify matters.
"I think it was a considerable improvement. The weaknesses that were obvious against France were much better today," Henry said.
"But we still have some distance to go and England is another step up altogether," he said of the Twickenham clash on March 4. "They are a very, very good side and that will be a major contest for us -- a real challenge for this Welsh team."
After failing to cross the line in their previous two matches, Wales scored four tries on Saturday. One of them went to 23-year-old debutant winger Shane Williams, who showed the sort of pace and confidence that has been missing in the Welsh game recently.
Too often in the past, promising situations have not led to tries but if Williams can cement his place in the side he can become a potent weapon.
"It was great to see Shane score a try and get some confidence," said Henry. "He did some good things out there and he's got a bit of adventure about him. I'm sure he could be a very good player in a short period of time."
Whether the diminutive Neath man will see so much of the ball at Twickenham is another matter. Impressive as Scott and Craig Quinnell were in carrying the ball up on Saturday, they are sure to face some much stiffer resistance from England's defenders.
Italy's first up tackling was poor and they sorely missed injured pack leader Massimo Giovanelli. Coach Brad Johnstone said his team were lacking the passion shown against Scotland and must learn to have the confidence to play away.