Harris issues warning to players
Wales head coach Iestyn Harris has warned his players to muscle up or face the axe before the 2013 World Cup.
Harris is picking up the pieces of his team's shattered dreams after they collapsed to a humiliating 80-12 defeat by England in Wrexham which brought their autumn international campaign to an abrupt halt.
The optimism generated in a battling 20-6 defeat by France in their opening autumn international was swept away by a ruthless England side which ran in 14 tries to book their place in the November 11 final.
England's wingers scored six tries between them, but Harris readily acknowledged that the damage was caused by his side's inability to cope physically with their opponents.
"We caused England a few problems with ball in hand but whenever we got opportunities, they just seemed to over-power us in the tackle and dominate the next play," Harris said.
"There are areas that we know that are problematic for us, but I certainly didn't expect them to come out in such abundance."
Wigan flier Josh Charnley, whose 31 tries enabled him to top the Super League scoring chart in 2012, led the way with four touchdowns, while centre Christiaan Roets and forward Dan Fleming provided Wales' only response with tries either side of half-time.
"Josh is a very good player, but they've got maybe three or four world-class players and some very good professionals," Harris added.
"To have that type of player available in every position is a luxury that we don't have.
"Our players are disappointed, but there is a realisation that there is a gulf between the two sides.
"I just don't think the gulf is 80 points and that's why I'm disappointed."
Instead of preparing for a final, Harris will now step up Wales' preparations for the World Cup in 12 months' time.
He says the appointment of a full-time conditioner is a step in the right direction and a clear indication that Wales are determined to do whatever it takes to raise standards in time for their opening game against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on October 26.
"If we find that we haven't got the physicality that's required to be at that level, then we've got 12 months to put it right," he said.
"We've got a full-time conditioner for the first time and we're doing some baseline testing next week for the first time ever in Wales' rugby league history.
"We're trying to give lads an idea of where they are and what sort of areas of improvement they need to make.
"If players don't get to those standards, then unfortunately they won't be in our squad. That's the type of standard we are now looking to achieve with Wales."
Harris says Wales will have another mid-season game in 2013 and are looking to organise two more warm-up matches before the tournament begins.
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