Will Rowlands played down his defensive heroics in Wales’ thrilling Rugby World Cup victory over Fiji, claiming “I just see it as me doing my job.”
Wales made a World Cup record of 253 tackles in the game, which they won 32-26, and lock Rowlands was at the heart it.
He delivered 27 tackles and missed none as Wales held on amid intense late pressure to claim a bonus-point win in their Pool C opener.
“I always find it a bit weird when the number of tackles becomes the headline because you defend in a system,” Rowlands said.
“Guys run at you and you tackle them. It’s nice people say nice things, but I just see it as me doing my job for the team.
“Five points against the Fijians is fantastic for us.
“We spoke about it today when we reviewed it that we did lots of things we wanted to do, and in the periods we were in control we built a nice little lead on them.
“And then there were parts of the game we need to look at and focus on which allowed them back into the game and set us up for a nervy finish, but game one, five points – very happy.
“We had gone into the World Cup feeling pretty confident, we had done some good work and we are in a good place going into the games physically.
“It was a big first game for us to play Fiji. They are a dangerous team. To get a win is fantastic, and now we focus on the next game with Portugal this weekend.”
And changes – possibly into double figures – could be made, especially considering the punishing nature of Fiji’s challenge and a six-day turnaround between games.
Wales assistant coach Jonathan Thomas said: “You will have seen for yourselves what a physical game it was and the amount of tackles we made. There are a number of sore bodies, but there are no injury concerns.
“The team gets named tomorrow but I think it is safe to say there will be changes. We’ve got complete and utter faith in our whole squad.
“I think what you will have seen from the Six Nations and then going into the three (World Cup) warm-up games, there have been opportunities for players.
“There were snapshots in those warm-up games where a number of players did particularly well.
“And that gives you the ability to make changes and freshen things up. It is a six-day turnaround, so it makes sense to make a few changes with the nature of the game we’ve just played.”
Players who could make their first starts of the tournament include full-back Leigh Halfpenny, wing Rio Dyer, centre Mason Grady, scrum-half Tomos Williams, lock Dafydd Jenkins and flanker Dan Lydiate.
Thomas added: “Are we satisfied with where we are at? There is always room for improvements for growth in our game. We are certainly not getting ahead of ourselves.
“Fiji are a team that hold possession particularly well, they are big powerful men with good ability, so they have the ability to maintain possession particularly well.
“We’ve got belief in our defensive structures. We are not afraid to play without the ball at times.”