Jonathan Humphreys urges Wales not to ‘go off-script’ against Georgia

By Sports Desk October 03, 2023

Jonathan Humphreys says that Wales “cannot afford to go off-script” when they tackle Rugby World Cup opponents Georgia in Nantes on Saturday.

Wales need a point from their Pool C finale to win the group, having already secured a quarter-final place through beating Australia by a record 40-6 scoreline nine days ago.

They lost 13-12 at home to Georgia when the countries last met almost a year ago, and Wales assistant coach Humphreys has emphasised a fierce sense of determination in the camp.

“There has been a bit of an edge about training, which is what we want,” forwards specialist Humphreys said.

“We are just keen to continue the progress that we’ve shown. That is a big driving force for us, and we have talked constantly about that.

“I expect them (Georgia) to play a bit, and they are strong up-front – we are under no illusion about that.

“They are a dangerous outfit, and we cannot afford to go off-script.”

Few could have imagined Wales reaching the last eight just 11 months after Georgia triumphed 13-12 in Cardiff, and Humphreys added: “We’ve had five months together. We are more like a club team than an international team.

“We came in earlier than most teams, we know what we wanted to improve and we haven’t deviated from that.

“Probably the messages that went out in May, they haven’t changed at all.

“Every day, it has been working on those fundamentals that we felt were important and would make a difference.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made six changes for the Georgia clash, with Dewi Lake captaining a side that also sees starts for wing Rio Dyer, fly-half Gareth Anscombe, scrum-half Tomos Williams, lock Dafydd Jenkins and flanker Tommy Reffell.

Centre Nick Tompkins will continue his midfield partnership with George North, meanwhile, and look to maintain the form that has made him among Wales’ most impressive performers at the tournament.

“We want no dip in our performance,” Tompkins said.

“We want to get better, we don’t want to take our foot off the pedal – that’s the last thing we want. We want confidence and momentum and to keep on going.

“I want to just keep getting better and keep pushing myself. There are a lot of things I need to improve on.

“I am happy with some areas, but there are some things I really need to push myself on.

“You look at some of the other centres out there and how well they are doing, and you want to emulate that.

“Being together as a squad for five months means you can have those little conversations and make little tweaks.

“You are all looking for little things to tweak and improve. It has been really healthy, and it has been all of us pushing each other.”

Tompkins has also voiced his support for the World Cup bunker system, whereby incidents of foul play can be referred and a yellow card retained or upgraded to red.

“I like it,” Tompkins added.

“Decisions are tough at the moment anyway, referees are under a lot of a pressure to keep the game moving quickly and get the right decision.

“I think it is brilliant, I like that model. To cut down the pressure we put on referees, especially, is good.”

Related items

  • Gatland confident Wales can transform fortunes after Australia series defeat Gatland confident Wales can transform fortunes after Australia series defeat

    Warren Gatland remains optimistic his young Wales side can turn into a "really good team" despite their series defeat to Australia.

    Wales' losing streak extended to nine matches on Saturday as Filipo Daugunu scored two tries to secure a 36-28 triumph for the Wallabies in Melbourne.

    Gatland's men were punished early on as their opponents raced into a 17-0 lead but showed grit and determination to get back into the contest before the break. 

    However, Wales' mistakes proved costly as Daugunu sealed the win with 12 minutes remaining, leaving the Dragons without victory in Melbourne since 1969. 

    Head coach Gatland believes his young side will be able to turn their losing streak around if they cut out those key mistakes. 

    "We worked so hard for our points today and we're showing a little bit of inexperience in terms of how we've gifted them points," Gatland told Sky Sports.

    "It's frustrating but I can't question how hard the boys work. We need to be honest with ourselves in terms of how we allowed them some soft tries.

    "When you look at the tries they've [Australia] scored, it's a bounce of a ball or something's happened, so that's disappointing. First half, I felt the guys kept trying, we scored a couple of nice tries and gave ourselves a chance to win the game.

    "We've got a group of young men who have been excellent, and they've just got to learn from those experiences and be more accurate in big moments.

    "I'm telling you, this is going to be a really good team. They're working incredibly hard and there's a good buzz within this group. We just probably need to be a little bit more streetwise.

    "I think they'll learn a lot from this tour and they've got the autumn to look forward to and then the Six Nations."

    Wales will now prepare for their upcoming Test fixture with Fiji in November, with the pressure mounting on Gatland following a poor run of results. 

  • Australia 36-28 Wales: Daugunu double helps seal series win for Wallabies Australia 36-28 Wales: Daugunu double helps seal series win for Wallabies

    Filipo Daugunu's two tries ensured Australia edged a thrilling encounter with Wales 36-28 to extend Warren Gatland's side's losing streak to nine matches. 

    Daugunu secured the triumph 12 minutes from time in Melbourne as Wales were punished for making several costly errors. 

    A bright Wales start was punctuated when Daugunu opened the scoring, capping off a slick Australia move that started on their own line.

    The Wallabies raced into a 17-point lead through Jake Gordon's score, but Wales got themselves back into contention via a driving maul as Dewi Lake bundled over.

    Noah Lolesio converted a penalty shortly after for the hosts, but Wales would take advantage of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto's sin bin when Lake doubled his tally.

    Liam Williams reduced the deficit to two points shortly after the break, only for Australia to regain control through Allan Alaalatoa's first try in 69 Tests. 

    Daugunu's second of the game late on put Australia further ahead, but Rio Dyer found a way over following the restart to set up a nervy finish at AAMI Park. 

    However, it proved to be too big of a mountain to climb, with Wales now preparing for their next Test against Fiji in Cardiff in November, and the pressure is on Gatland.

    Data Debrief: Wales' woeful run rolls on

    Wales' defeat in Melbourne was their ninth in a row, with their last victory a group-stage win over Georgia at the 2023 World Cup. It is the Dragons' worst run since 2003 under Steve Hansen.

    The Dragons also have a dismal record Down Under. They have not beaten the Wallabies in Australia since 1969. 

  • England have 'no ceiling' to potential, says defiant George after All Blacks loss England have 'no ceiling' to potential, says defiant George after All Blacks loss

    England captain Jamie George says his side have "no ceiling" to their potential after another narrow defeat to New Zealand on Saturday.

    Steve Borthwick's men were undone by a late fightback as the All Blacks triumphed 24-17 at Eden Park, following up a close 16-15 victory for the hosts in the first Test.

    It could have been a different story, however, as England crossed for a third try that would have set up a conversion to draw 24-24 before a lengthy TMO review saw them penalised for obstruction in a maul.

    George insists England must take all of the positives from their 2-0 series defeat, having threatened a first win in New Zealand since 2003.

    "We're a significantly better team than when we started and there are hugely exciting times ahead for this England team," George told Sky Sports.

    "We'll welcome New Zealand back to Twickenham in November and we look forward to that, but I don't think there is a ceiling in this team.

    "You look at the age demographic, hugely talented guys who are desperate to learn, and it's an absolute pleasure to be a part of."

    England scored through Immanuel Feyi-Waboso and Tommy Freeman tries, both via Marcus Smith kick passes.

    Fly-half Smith, aged just 25, represents one of the more experience heads in the side as England attempt to build for the future.

    "If you look at guys like Fin Baxter and Ollie Sleightholme winning their first caps against the All Blacks, they'll never forget it and I thought they built on it nicely," Smith said.

    "We've got a lot of young lads – I'm feeling old at the minute! But I think we are building to something.

    "The belief we have as a group is growing, and on another day we get a result here or last week."

    England next face Australia at home in November when head coach Borthwick hopes to continue the improvements.

    "I think they'll be rightly proud of their efforts. The team is progressing," Borthwick said after the defeat.

    "Clearly we've got work to do to get to where we want to be, but we're making steps forward."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.