Harris keeping it simple ahead of England's visit


Tom Norris

Iestyn Harris will deliver a simple message to his Welsh side moments before they run out at The Racecourse on Saturday - do your best.

A victory for Wales over England in Wrexham on Saturday would be considered a major shock in the 13-man code given the two teams’ recent record against one another.

Wales have won once in the last 10 meetings with England – way back in 1995 at Ninian Park – including a 42-4 defeat at Leigh Sports Village 12 months ago.

The focus for Harris and his staff is on next year’s World Cup and that means performances – rather than results – are the immediate priority.

“There is a reality,” said Harris when asked whether Wales could defeat England.
“If we can be the best of us, do all of the things that we need to improve on right, England, who haven’t played yet, are a little bit scratchy and we can get on the front foot against them, then who knows?

“We won’t be thinking about winning or losing, or even the scoreline, because we want to try and control what we can and improve in certain areas.

“We’ve got to make sure we do our little bit right, which is improving in the areas that we need to improve on.

“We need to make sure that we are the best of us. If we are and we get beat then we will walk off feeling alright about ourselves. If we aren’t the best of us and we get beat then we will be disappointed.”

Even his side’s 20-6 defeat to France in Lens last Saturday left Harris optimistic about the future.

A spell of 20 first-half minutes effectively handed France the victory after full-back David James had given Wales an early lead.

“We are getting used to playing at the level of England, Australia, New Zealand and France,” explained the former Crusaders’ head coach.

“France are probably four or five years further down the line than we are.

“The fact that they had 15 or so Super League players in their ranks compared to our six means that they always seemed to have that little bit more physicality than us.

“They certainly didn’t have more desire, but more physicality and they were a little bit smarter.

“That is just us getting used to playing at that intensity and I think we will be better this week and guys will improve.

“The players will learn that they need to be a bit smarter and we have worked on that.”

Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, Harris knows that there is plenty more to come from a team without a number of key players.

Rhys Williams, Lloyd White, Ian Webster, Jacob Emmitt, Tyson Frizzell and Andy Bracek are among those sidelined but that would strengthen Wales.

“There is a lot more to come from this team,” declared the Wigan assistant coach.

“There are players like Rhys Williams, Lloyd White, Ian Webster and Jacob Emmitt who play in Super League and are in our pool of players, but haven’t been available to us.

“These guys coming into a World Cup squad next year will add strength to our group and the likes of Rhys Pugsley and other young players will progress in these next 12 months.

“I took over in 2009 and we were 15th in the the world and we felt that there were a lot of hurdles that had to be overcome.

“We are past the majority of those and up to sixth in the world.

“Our long term aspirations come 2017 are to break into that top three.

“When you are having to knock off those last couple of hurdles they are always the hardest.”

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