27th February 2013, 15:58
SEE YOU IN THE QUARTER-FINALS, WALES!
AUSTRALIA HEAD COACH SHEENS TALKS ABOUT WALES AND THE WORLD CUP DURING FLYING VISIT TO CARDIFF
By Gary Baker
WALES head coach Iestyn Harris and Australian boss Tim Sheens are likely to pass each other somewhere in the depths of the Millennium Stadium on Saturday October 26.
But the next time they hope to see one another face-to-face will be on Saturday November 16 at Wrexham's Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground for the World Cup quarter-final.
The Aussies face England on October 26, the opening day of the competition, before Wales play Italy in the first of their group matches and the second of the day's double header straight afterwards.
Sheens (pictured above centre), along with Australian Rugby League officials Gareth Holmes (pictured above left) and Andrew Hil (pictured above right), took a look around the iconic Welsh venue on Sunday (February 24) plus saw nearby training facilities at Cardiff University and the University of Glamorgan, Treforest.
Before they flew to Ireland for another ground inspection, this time of Thomond Park, Limerick, Sheens said getting to the World Cup quarter-finals would be a massive step forward for the Welsh even though they have reached semi-finals in two of the previous three World Cups.
Sheens, 62 said: "Getting through the group itself is a massive challenge for Welsh rugby league. To do that is a goal you have to start with.
"You won't have a chance if you don't win your pool games so you have got to do that before you start thinking about winning a competition.
"It is the same with us in that we have to win the pool games to have the right to challenge for the semi-finals.
"Before you start worrying about the end result, you worry about the jobs in hand. It is the process not the outcome. You concentrate on this game, then the next game. Anything can happen if you concentrate on the job in hand and not look down the track too far. That is something we work on very hard in Australia sport, not looking too far ahead of yourself."
Last weekend was the first time that Sheens had stepped foot in Cardiff, but he has already seen Wales at first hand when they touched base during the 2011 Four Nations tournament in the UK. There, Wales lost 56-14 when running out of steam in the second period.
Sheens said: "I was very impressed with Wales two years ago when they beat France to get into the Four Nations. Nobody expected that and it was done with a pretty much Welsh side, although there were a couple of imports (players).
"But with the right qualification through heritage and/or playing in the competition (Super League) for three years for them to qualify, I don't see a problem with having imported players in the Wales squad for the World Cup."
Other nations are doing it, like Italy, so why not Wales? "It's a good question and one that I don't want to get embroiled in other than to say that at the Olympic standard, you qualify after three years and certain qualifications based on family history are allowed and that goes in rugby as well.
"We are no different from any other sport. Whether the selectors in Wales here pick out a home grown side or not is up to them. I would hate to see a complete overseas side. I don't think that should happen ever but a nation like Wales, in one or two positions, might benefit strongly from an import and I can't see that that will be a bad thing for the boys to have. I don't know who would qualify for Wales, that is for the selectors to sort out."
So the next time Sheens is in Cardiff, it will be with the might of his Kangaroos beside him to face England but whoever wins that game will face Wales in the quarter-finals if Harris and the Dragons reach their personal goals and win their group.