Rugby World Cup 2023: Wales lock Will Rowlands does not expect plaudits after Fiji display

Will Rowlands has played 26 internationals for Wales
Will Rowlands has played 26 internationals for Wales

Rugby World Cup 2023: Portugal v Wales

Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice Date: Saturday, 16 Sept Kick-off: 16:45 BST

Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app.

Wales lock Will Rowlands says he does not expect plaudits following his heroic defensive performance in the opening World Cup win against Fiji.

Rowlands made 27 tackles with Wales completing a World Cup record of 253.

"I always find it a bit weird when the number of tackles becomes the headline because you defend in a system," said Rowlands.

"Guys run at you and you tackle them. It's nice, people say nice things - but I see it as doing my job for the team."

Wales almost surrendered an 18-point lead in Bordeaux following a ferocious Fiji fightback before eventually winning 32-26, which signified a bonus-point victory.

Wales have now moved to Nice where they will face Portugal on Saturday.

"Five points against the Fijians is fantastic for us," said Rowlands.

"We spoke about it when we reviewed it that we did lots of things we wanted to do and in the periods we were in control we built a nice little lead.

"There were parts of the game we need to look at and focus on, which allowed them back into the game and set us up for a nervy finish.

"We'd gone into the World Cup feeling pretty confident - we'd done some good work and we're in a good place going into the games physically.

"It was a big first game for us to play Fiji. They are a dangerous team. To get a win is fantastic and now we focus on the next game with Portugal this weekend and we'll try and do the same again.

"It was a tough game physically but we've recovered, well conditioned, so ready to go again this week."

Rowlands has left Dragons and will link up with Racing Metro for the start of next season.

The 31-year-old passed the 25-cap threshold during the World Cup warm-ups in August, which means he is eligible to play international rugby despite playing his club rugby outside Wales.

"I've loved the first couple of weeks here," said Rowlands.

"The excitement around the World Cup everywhere you go in France is amazing.

"There are loads of Welsh fans and French people supporting us too. It's been a really amazing experience so far and made me very excited to play a bit more rugby in France in the next few years."

This is Rowlands' first World Cup after making his Wales debut against France in February 2020.

Rowlands was handed his international call-up by Wayne Pivac, who was replaced by Warren Gatland in December 2022.

"This is my first experience of working with Gats and I think that's definitely one of the things I've felt in the group, that there is a big confidence in his plan and the coaches in general," said Rowlands.

"It instils a confidence and belief in the group when we play at our best."

Wales trained on Tuesday with full-back Liam Williams and fly-half Dan Biggar starting the session away from the main group and being put through the paces, while lock Adam Beard was cycling on the exercise bike on the touchline.

The side to face Portugal is named on Wednesday with assistant coach Jonathan Thomas admitting there would be changes after the six-day turnaround from Fiji.