'Italian Dragon' gives Wales a boost

12:34 pm on 4 October 2015

The Welsh rugby side are already Rugby World Cup winners when it comes to pre-match celebrity hangouts.

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Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It's not unusual (come on, you get it) for teams to bring in "inspirational" figures before big games and the Welsh are having a ball.

Ahead of their crucial confrontation with Fiji in the morning (4.45am NZ time) at Cardiff, Wales invited world super-middleweight boxing champion Joe Calzaghe.

The 43-year-old Welshman, AKA the 'Pride of Wales' or the 'Italian Dragon' joined them to watch Mr Calzaghe, the film about his rise to the top.

"It came across strongly that he [Calzaghe] has been true to his roots. He was never-say-die, always saw himself as the underdog and trained as such. He thrived on that," said Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde afterwards.

"Joe stuck around and spent time answering the boys' questions with his father [Enzo]. It was great for them [the squad] to have some respite from rugby and to talk to one of the world's finest sportsmen."

It appears to be a case of sticking to what works for the Welsh.

Before last weekend's winning performance against England, the side had a visit from singer Tom Jones.

The wags at The Daily Telegraph described it as such: "What's New Pussycat? Oh, only the news that Wales's greatest ever human being Tom Jones presented Sam Warburton and the boys with their playing shirts ahead of the crunch England World Cup match.

"That's right - Tom Jones, formerly of The Voice fame, and the Wales Rugby Union team bonding.

Joe Calzaghe

Joe Calzaghe Photo: AFP

"The singing legend even got the Wales lads to do the 'pretending to pose in a formal manner' thing for a photograph."

Tom Jones

The Welsh side has pulled out the big guns, including Tom Jones, to visit them ahead of games Photo: AFP

A win for the injury-ravaged Wales will all but secure them a place in the quarter-finals.

Fiji aren't in a position to progress after losing their first two matches, but could make life easier for England if they win.

Australia beat England 33-13 on Sunday, and the English loss means they can't reach the knockout stages.

- AFP/RNZ

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