Wales prop Gareth Thomas eyeing World Cup quarter-final berth against Australia

By Sports Desk September 21, 2023

Gareth Thomas says it would be “an amazing feeling” if Wales beat Australia and book a Rugby World Cup quarter-final place one game inside the distance.

Wales tackle the Wallabies in Lyon on Sunday knowing that victory would confirm one of the two qualifying spots from Pool C.

England or Argentina are then likely last-eight opponents in Marseille next month, with Wales maintaining a 100 per cent record of reaching the knock-out phase under head coach Warren Gatland during four successive World Cup campaigns.

Wales then have a break next week before completing their group schedule against Georgia in Nantes.

“When we came here we always wanted to win all the games in the group and nothing has changed,” Wales prop Thomas said.

“We’ve got the same mindset. We want to go out there and perform and get the win.

“That would be an amazing feeling wouldn’t it, getting the third win? We don’t want anything but that. We are looking forward to this weekend and then we will have a couple of days to recover after that.”

While Wales occupy the box-seat, Australia must win to have any chance of progressing from a pool that also includes Fiji, Georgia and Portugal.

A 22-15 defeat to Fiji in Saint-Etienne last weekend has elevated the prospect of Australia not progressing to the quarter-finals, which has been their minimum achievement in all nine previous World Cup campaigns.

Australia’s record in the tournament against Wales is a good one, though, having toppled them five times from seven attempts, but the latest meeting will undoubtedly see them weakened by injured forwards Taniela Tupou and Will Skelton missing out.

Thomas added: “They are always going to be dangerous when you play against them.

“We wanted to come here with the mindset of winning all the pool games, and nothing has changed for us. So whether they have won or lost, it doesn’t change anything for us.

“We take a lot of confidence from the Fiji game and Portugal game and what we’ve done all summer, really, and feel like we can only get better as well.

“We know it is going to be a big, physical contest and we are looking forward to getting out there.

“It doesn’t really make any difference to me whether they (Tupou and Skelton) are in or not.

“We’ve got our heavies behind us – Will (Rowlands) and Beardy (Adam Beard) and Daf (Dafydd Jenkins). They are all heavy boys and Christ (Tshiunza) as well. We’ve got plenty of power ourselves.”

Thomas is among 16 Wales players involved in a first World Cup campaign and he is relishing the experience on and off the pitch.

Wales assistant coach Alex King has compared the squad to a “band of brothers”, and Thomas said: “There is just something special about every game in the World Cup, so we are watching them and just enjoying them because there is a big buzz about everything.

“We have fines committees. The (latest) sheet came out with all the fines on it and Nick Tompkins racked up a decent bill.

“He wore the wrong T-shirt and he was a little bit late for monitoring after the Fiji game because his alarm didn’t go off. It’s all good fun.

“I am on environment, so making sure everything is clean and taking the empty bottles, putting them in the bin. That’s my job, the guy who tells everyone to clean up their own stuff.”

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