Alfie to lead Wales to victory

Gareth Thomas will join international rugby's 100-cap club on Saturday - and what a fantastic achievement that is for the Wales skipper. Getting to 100 caps alone, says so much about a player's ability, his fitness and application towards keeping himself at the game's very highest level.

Gareth Thomas will join international rugby's 100-cap club on Saturday - and what a fantastic achievement that is for the Wales skipper.

Getting to 100 caps alone, says so much about a player's ability, his fitness and application towards keeping himself at the game's very highest level.

But with Alfie, he has also carried out captaincy duties in numerous Test matches and is Wales' all-time record try scorer.

Yes, there have been ups and downs throughout his career, and I think he was a bit of a wild one early on, but he has mellowed.


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It will be such a great moment for him when he leads Wales out for the World Cup eliminator against Fiji in Nantes.

He has had a rib injury, and I just hope he is 100% fit to lead the side for a game that will make or break Wales' quarter-final ambitions.

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But knowing the guy, I know he wouldn't entertain going out on to that pitch unless he was 100%.

If you look at his Test career, he has shown his outstanding ability in three positions - centre, wing and full-back - and is such a big player in the Wales squad.

He has also been a real character throughout the good and bad times for Welsh rugby, when sometimes it has proved difficult to keep smiling.

Alfie has always been one of those guys who claimed he never trained, especially in the early days, but I have no doubt he was a secret trainer. He always looked after himself.

I played with him and against him, and my last five caps in 1996 and 1997 - against Australia, the USA, Scotland, France and England - saw us both involved.

He has always had this considerable physical presence about him and an outstanding ability to score tries. He is big and powerful - a top-class athlete.

I am confident too, he will captain a winning Wales performance this weekend, therefore securing a quarter-final against South Africa in Marseille on Sunday week.

I take Wales to win, but they have got to play properly, getting over the gain-line and producing a structured game at the set-piece.

They cannot afford to be loose in anything they do, otherwise that is going to play right into Fiji's hands.

Tomorrow night, England play their final pool game against Tonga at Parc des Princes, and while quite a lot of people are twitchy about the outcome, I feel England will win quite comfortably.

For me, they have turned a corner with the performance and result against Samoa, and I have no doubt they will be heading into a quarter-final against Australia.

Ireland, clearly, have got it all to do against Argentina in Pool D on Sunday.

Even a bonus point victory won't be enough to progress if Argentina secure a losing bonus, but Ireland need to get some pride back in this World Cup campaign.

Argentina know they only need one point, and it will be interesting to see if Ireland start going for tries straightaway, or go for goal and build the win.

I think Ireland will win, but whether they can stop Argentina getting a point is another thing altogether.

Ireland always perform when they go into a game as underdogs. They have a lot to prove on Sunday, and this could be the game when it happens for them.

There is no doubt a win would save face, because things haven't been great for Ireland in this tournament.

People have been saying they have got the structure so right with central contracts and resting players, but on this occasion it hasn't really worked.

I think some of their players need to play a bit more rugby in the Magners League.

On Saturday, it looks as though Scotland are favourites to win their pool knockout game against Italy, but it is going to be a tense affair and the Italians will pull out all the stops to beat them.

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