Gough feeding off bad memories

‘Hopefully we will be a bit smarter now’

Wales star Ian Gough remembers vividly the dark days of 1993, when Canada inflicted a humiliating 26-24 defeat on Wales at the old Arms Park.

And the Dragons lock is determined there will be no repeat of that at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.

It is almost 13 years to the day since Al Charron crashed over to score Canada’s second try and Gareth Rees landed the difficult conversion to seal a dramatic late victory.

The onset of professionalism has changed the rugby landscape and Canada have never been able to build on that triumph.

Wales have won the last five encounters, including a 140-41 drubbing at the last World Cup, but Gough insists the lessons learned from that 1993 defeat are still relevant.

And he warned Wales they must be prepared to enter into a hard, physical battle if they want to beat Canada less than a year before the two sides meet again at the World Cup.

“I remember that game in 1993. I was watching it on TV. We tried to be too physical against them and it shows if you play the wrong way and play into their hands they will thrive on it,” said Gough.

“They are a tough, well-drilled side. They will be hungry as well. Some of their professionals haven’t been able to make it. All the pressure is on us and they will be there to knock us down.

“We played in Canada a few years ago and they absolutely flew into the boys for the first 60 minutes. We had boys off getting stitches, they were battered.

“Hopefully we will be a bit smarter than we were in 1993 and have found a way of playing to exploit them.”

The Canada side includes Cardiff Blues scrum-half Ed Fairhurst at full-back and former Wales Under-21 lock Luke Tait.

The 25-year-old was a member of the Overmach Parma side which dumped the Newport Gwent Dragons out of the Heineken Cup with a stunning play-off win back in June.

Canada head into tomorrow’s game determined to lay a marker ahead of their opening World Cup fixture – against Wales in Nantes on September 9.

“We want to make them aware that they are going to have a tough game on Friday night, and come World Cup time they are going to have a tougher time of it,” said head coach Ric Suggitt.

While Canada have named only 11 professionals in the starting side, Wales head coach Gareth Jenkins is spoiled for choice.

Gough returns to the side after sitting out the win over the Pacific Islands – the first Test he has missed in a year since breaking back into the Wales squad.

“It’s very strange how it turns so quickly,” he said.

“This time last year we were ready to face South Africa. Brent Cockbain had just injured his hamstring and Luke Charteris was in ahead of me, even though he had a badly twisted ankle and couldn’t walk all week.

“I came in when he pulled out before the game – and last week was the first game I have missed since.

“Fortunes turn around really quickly – but the same could also happen for the lads pushing me for my position.

“It’s brilliant for Wales. It means every time you pull on the jersey you have to perform. Any slip-ups and the boys will be in.”

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