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Rugby World Cup: England key to Wales bid

12:00 20 September 2015

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (pic: Joe Giddens/PA)

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (pic: Joe Giddens/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

Romford & Gidea Park’s Davies backs coach

Wales have seen their hopes hit by injuries to key men Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb on the eve of the tournament.

Head coach Warren Gatland came under fire for playing the duo in their final warm-up match against Italy, but Dai Davies, president of Romford & Gidea Park RFC, is not one of the critics.

“There’s been a lot of fuss about whether they should’ve played, but you need game time,” said Davies, who is originally from Carmarthen.

“The rank and file support Gatland. A few have criticised certain selections, but he had to make a difficult decision on Brian O’Driscoll with the Lions and got stick for it.

“You have to look at the positives, others can come in. They’ve got their game-plan and have been together for a number of weeks now. There’s a lot of competition for places.

“The problem is with our ‘Group of Death’ it will most probably come down to the squads. Dan Biggar can cover the kicking and Liam Williams is international class at full back, but then you’ve got to cover those replacements, where the strength in depth comes in.”

Wales were semi-finalists in 2011, when Sam Warburton was sent off against the French, and Davies, a former teacher at Eastbrook School who joined Romford in 1973 and has served as captain, coach, secretary, chairman and touch judge of the Crow Lane club, believes they could face a crunch clash with hosts England.

“I think it will all come down to the England-Wales game. Australia, England and Wales are capable of beating each other so it could come down to points difference, so the Uruguay and Fiji games are very important.

“Wales can probably use some fringe players against Uruguay, but Fiji will not be that easy for England first game. It will be interesting.”

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