Wales kick off Four Nations preparations

Wales coach Iestyn Harris has said that he is pleased with the first week of training for his side as they prepare for the toughest tournament of their lives.

The Welsh squad got together for the first time last week and were split into North and South groups, with Barry Eaton taking sessions in Wrexham and Harris himself running things from Treforest.

And while training has only just started, Harris promises a tough time for those who will be taking on England, Australia and New Zealand in the Gillette Four Nations.

“We’re building up, we’ve only got small numbers at this stage,” he said. “There’s only so much you can do with small numbers but we did some structural stuff, some terminology and work with some of the guys physically, so it was a productive first week.

“Last week was a general introduction to the things that we are going to do over the next five or six weeks. It’s early days but good to get out on the field with the guys.

“Barry Eaton, who’s going to be on the coaching staff with us, took the North Wales group. They were pretty low on numbers, there’s about seven more to come in next week. It’s a physical process for them rather than a skills outset. Their numbers are less than ours, we’re hoping to be up to about 15 or 16 in the south and 12 or 13 in the north in the next couple of weeks, so there should be good work going on in both ends of the country before we finally get together.”

Harris says that a lot of the skill-sets have been individually designed for each player as they will be coming into the Welsh squad from a number of situations.

“The next couple of weeks are a period of what individuals need physically,” Harris confirmed. “Some guys will have come in straight away after a long hard season so it’s about giving them rest, recuperation and maintenance time. We’ve still got some guys who are in the play-offs with their respective clubs. There’s some who haven’t played for a while so they’ll need some physical work in to be able to withstand competition from the best three teams in the world. Gareth Thomas should be back in a couple of weeks. He’s still recovering from his broken arm and needs maximum time for it to completely heal. So it’s all very individualised and last week was about finding out what people do need.”

Six of Harris’ train-on squad are based in Australia and won’t be in Wales until mid-October. However he says that they will still be training hard down under.

“The guys from Australia have all had weights and conditioning programmes sent across to them,” he said. “They’ll get the terminology sent off to them soon so when they land here they’ll be fully up to speed physically and they’ll understand the way we want to play the game. We won’t actually see the full squad until the week before the Ireland game.”

Wales kick-off their international season with a warm-up match against Ireland on Saturday 22nd October at The Gnoll in Neath