Shaun Edwards: Wales must push into top four in world, says defence coach
Defence coach Shaun Edwards says Wales’ immediate ambitions will be securing a place in the top four of the world rankings.
Edwards insists Wales need a rise from their current fifth spot to improve their hopes in next May’s draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
It might help Wales avoid the ‘Pool of Death’ they endured in 2015 when they were drawn with Australia and England.
“That is what we are aiming to do,” said Edwards.
“If we can push our way into the top four obviously with the World Cup draw on the horizon that would be a big effort from our boys.”
World champions New Zealand, England, Australia and South Africa are the current top four sides in the world.
Wales are one place below in fifth place ahead of their opening game of the autumn series against Australia in Cardiff on Saturday.
Since the rankings were introduced in 2003, Wales achieved a high of second during the 2015 World Cup but have been as low as 10th.
The draw for the 2015 World Cup was also made three years before the start of the tournament itself and grouped Australia, England and Wales in Pool A.
The three nations were ranked second, third and fourth in the world when the tournament kicked off, which led to criticism from Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
As they approach a tough run of Autumn internationals Edwards wants the Welsh players to try to eliminate such a situation again with a push up the rankings.
“At the moment, there’s about six, seven, maybe eight teams all vying for those top four spots in the world rankings,” added Edwards.
“England are number two at the moment, they were number five, if we can get into that top four it will be a big, big effort from our guys because we’ve only been in that top four for four per cent of the time since the world rankings came into existence.”