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Published: 13:20 | 12/6/19

Williams: Wales can cope with favourites tag

Shane Williams sees no reason why Wales will not cope with the pressure of being favourites for this year's Rugby World Cup.

Warren Gatland's side are undefeated in 14 Test matches and are second in the world rankings on the back of their Grand Slam success earlier this year.

Having reached the semi-finals in England in 2015, Wales will be hoping to go one better and lift the Webb Ellis Trophy and Williams believes the players will have no problem coping with the pressure that comes with being among the favourites.

“I think the players have been under enough pressure the last two years and they have handled it pretty well, going unbeaten in that time, Grand Slam champions,” Williams said in Tokyo at an event to mark 100 days until the World Cup.

“A bit of extra pressure? They will be fine I am sure.

“It doesn’t usually happen, certainly going into a World Cup, with Wales up there as the favourites but it just goes to show how well they are playing at the moment and hopefully that will install some confidence in the group.

“They are playing some good rugby at the moment but at the same time they know they can improve as well and that makes Wales a very dangerous side going into this World Cup.”

Wales have been drawn in Pool D alongside Australia, Fiji and Georgia but Williams believes the tough group will stand to them should they reach the knockout stages of the competition.

“It is going to be difficult but if you want to win the World Cup you have got to play your good rugby in the pool stages and then get better as the tournament goes on,” Williams said.

“Sometimes it is better to have a tough pool because then you are already bloodied for that quarter-final, provided you get there.”

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