Biggar, skills coach Jenkins and Costelow chat ahead of their Quarter Final

Biggar, skills coach Jenkins and Costelow chat ahead of their Quarter Final

Dan Biggar, fly-half

On what excites him about Rugby World Cup quarter-final weeks:

"The first thing is the prize at the end of it. We have spoken all week about we’re not quite ready to go home yet. It’s funny how time changes as probably three, four or five months ago if somebody had said that we were going to win our pool and be in a really strong position to make a semi-final then people would have thought you were talking absolute madness.

"It just shows how much confidence and belief we have had in the group as the weeks have gone by and the more time we have spent together. This is the reason why you play rugby: big occasions, quarter-final of a World Cup.

"It has just been a real special week. It’s been brilliant being based where we have been. We’re all glad that we’re on this side of the draw for a few reasons, but also because we get to play in this magnificent stadium and sample something a bit different.

"The prize at the end of it is why we play rugby as we want to be involved in weeks like this."

On having thought this could be his last game for Wales having announced he will retire after the RWC:

"Not really. For us it’s not been any different. We’ve almost been playing knock-out rugby since our first pool match against Fiji. 

"If we didn’t get the job done in that game we’d have faced a real uphill battle. Then Australia was a do or die. It’s like we’ve already had a couple of knock-out matches along the way.

"I’m not thinking about anything, but I don’t want this to be my last day as a rugby player for Wales. I want it to be another two weeks. Hopefully that’ll be the case.”

On if this being their last RWC provides extra motivation for a few Wales players:

"There’s probably a little bit of both. There’s probably extra motivation, an extra little bit of pressure, but the few of us who are in that boat have tried to enjoy the tournament for what it’s been rather than putting too much pressure on ourselves.

"We’re taking it day by day, week by week, just enjoying ourselves in each place. It’s been an unbelievable World Cup, the stadiums, the people, it’s been incredible.

"For us that are definitely finishing, it’s not an if, there is a little bit of extra pressure but it's also a huge motivation. I definitely don’t want my last day as a Welsh rugby player to be losing a quarter-final, absolutely not.

"We’ve worked as hard as we possibly can all week, put in extra little bits on the laptop, on the pitch, not so much in the gym for myself. But trying to do as much as I can for this team and for individuals to make sure we go out on a high.”

On the influence of Wales fans in Marseille:

"It’s been quite strange as we’ve almost been in a bit of a bubble out here, in our own little world, and we’ve noticed that as the weeks have gone on the support from back home and the belief has just grown and grown. 

"For us it’s absolutely huge. We’re hoping to have a load of Welsh fans in here tomorrow. Loads of family and friends are coming. I’ve got 13 people staying in my house in Toulon. We’ve got a fair few people there. It just shows the interest and what happens when you do well in this Wales team.

"The interest grows and I hope it will be a huge help to us on Saturday."

On his fitness:

“I’m okay. Just managed to get myself back this week. Bit unexpected to be sat on the bench last week [against Georgia] watching Costy [Sam Costelow] bring the team home really well.

“I’m all good to go for tomorrow.”

On if he thought his World Cup was over after suffering injury against Australia:

“Initially I thought it was going to be really difficult but we managed to heal up okay. I’ve basically been with the physios pretty much every day for the last two to two and a half weeks getting myself back for this.

“This was one I didn’t want to miss. I'm just really lucky and grateful to be sat here preparing for a game tomorrow. 

“I had thought it would have been such a shame to have ended it in that way, but it’s not about myself or anybody else leaving the team, it’s about making sure we stay on as the belief and confidence we have got in the group now is really high.

“We know we are playing a very tough team who have probably got a bit more to come than what they’ve shown in the pool stages. We know they are going to be right up for this tomorrow and how difficult it’s going to be.

“We have to make sure we manage expectations. A lot of people in Wales probably think we just have to turn up tomorrow to get the job done and we’ve spoken all week about how that is the absolute opposite of what our mindset is. We know how difficult this game is going to be and we’ll probably have to play a lot better than what we did in the pool stage. 

“Hopefully we can deliver a really good performance and make this World Cup even more special than it has been.”

On his opinion of Argentina fly-half Santiago Carreras:

“Fabulous rugby player whether he is playing at 10 or 15. He can change the game in the space of one moment of brilliance.

“He is someone we have spoken about all week, trying from our point of view to put as much pressure on him as possible. But we know that a lot of times when he comes under pressure that there are moments of brilliance in him as well.

“We have picked out key individuals for Argentina, him being one of them. We need to make sure we’re alive for everything that we have spoken about, being really good at things that don’t require a lot of talent, be it kick-chase, putting pressure on nine and 10. I am sure he is going to be a threat to us.”

On what it is about squad that makes him more confident this time:

“We’ve had a really happy group of players from day one. This group has grown and grown as the weeks and months have gone by. Previously, if you look back to 2019, we had a pretty settled team who were quite comfortable with each other and who were pretty much the same team for 18 months to two years before the World Cup.

“This group has really come into its own. You’ve got the real mix of players. You’ve got a few older lads who are finishing up, you’ve got some younger guys who are coming through and then a mix in the middle. 

“It’s a bit different to previous campaigns but what we’ve done is a we’ve mixed in really well as a group. Whether you’re 20 or 21, or 34, we’ve all mixed in well, got on well, enjoyed each other’s company.

“We try to have some fun along the way as well. We have a bit of a challenge of the week or an entertainment presentation, things like that. We’ve really enjoyed meetings and training as well as working hard. When we have had to flick the switch, work and get on the training pitch we’ve done that but we’ve also enjoyed each other’s company off the field as well. Whether that’s going out for dinner or having meetings outside of rugby. That’s been a real plus for us as a group.”

On who leads entertainment:

“Not the entertainment committee, the people who have been on there. I’ve had to step up a few times. Dillon Lewis has basically got photos of everybody. You never quite know what’s coming up in those slides. I am sure if we win this week we will have a good one next week.”

On relating individual ability to super strengths and superheroes:

“We have gone back to basics really. We spoke in all our meetings about making sure you play to your own individual strengths. There’s no point somebody trying to be world-class in something they are never going to be world-class. We’ve tried to focus on what we’re individually good at.

“Hopefully, what we’ve done is bring all those individual strengths together and forged quite a strong collective team. That’s something we referenced today, making sure that we play to our individual strengths. 

Neil Jenkins, skills coach

On using previous experience of playing in Rugby World Cup quarter-finals:

“It’s difficult. As Gats [head coach Warren Gatland] has already alluded to this week, it’s about not trying to coach too much.

“These boys are fantastic players, they know the game inside out. It’s being player led, but there is some influence from the coaches. 

“It’s a do-or-die game, it’s that simple. Knock-out rugby. They need to be on it playing against a very good side in Argentina who have a lot of talented players.

“We just need to focus on ourselves, bring what we can to the table. If we do that then we’re in with a good chance. But it’s going to be a very tight, physical, uncompromising game.”

On what does Warren Gatland do to bring the best out of teams:

“Gats prides himself on the time we have had together. We met up at the end of May. Most of the guys came in at that time and have gone through the mill. In Switzerland, Turkey, the training sessions were pretty brutal. 

“It puts you in a place where you’re conditioned, can play at a high level. That’s something we’ve prided ourselves on over a long period of time with that 12 years with Gats. We tried to get back to that this summer. 

“You can see evidence of that in the games we’ve played and the way we’ve gone about it. It just gives you confidence, not just the players, but the staff as well, knowing that we can mix it, stay in there for long periods even against the best sides. 

“But we’re going to have to go up another couple of gears tomorrow, no doubting that, given what’s at stake and who we’re playing against.”

On if he thinks Argentina will play a kicking game:

“There’s not much space in test football. They are good aerially and have a decent kicking game. There will be a lot of kicking, it’s just the nature of test matches at this level when there’s a lot on the line.

“There’s not an awful lot of space and you’ve got to try and earn that right so you can attack so the kicking game plays a big part in that.

“There will be a lot of kicks, especially early on, trying to find each other out, not wanting to give up too much territory and not wanting to invite the opposition into your 22. It’s a very difficult place to defend these days.

“If you’ve got a team that does get into your 22, there are a lot of sides at this moment who are very clinical. Argentina have got some fantastic players, some big forwards who can carry and put a dent into you.

“They will be doing their utmost to stop us getting into those areas. It’s part of test football in today’s game.”

Sam Costelow, fly-half

On what he thinks of Dan Biggar:

“He is sitting quite close (laughs). Nah, he’s a great player, great bloke as well. That’s what makes him so special. 

“I’ve been looking at him a lot on the training ground trying to pick up as many tips as I can. The way he just leads this team is so special, how he speaks to players, how he delivers his message and what he wants."

Latest News