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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Harris blames build-up

By Iestyn Harris
Wales international

There are mixed emotions in Canberra - we're obviously pleased to get the points against Tonga, but disappointed with the way the game unfolded.

It was a scrappy affair and they took the game to us in the second half, but we felt in control for 90% of the match without ever killing it off.

We didn't expect the greasy surface and didn't adapt our game plan to compensate - as professionals you should be overcoming those obstacles.

I think we left plenty on the training ground. The build-up had been full and intense throughout the week as we saw Tonga as the easiest game in our group.

Iestyn Harris
It was a real thrill to receive our jerseys from Mal Meninga
I was thrown into the starting XV at the last minute after Sonny Parker's back injury ruled him out, but that didn't affect me as I was prepared for my spot on the bench.

To be honest, I was delighted as I'm the sort of player who likes to get into a rhythm and play in every game that's up. I don't like missing out.

The training this week will be less intense and the management are planning things to take our minds off rugby and ease the pressure.

Italy will be a massive match as both sides know they have to win if they hope to progress in this tournament.

If we can get our tactics and preparations right then I know we have the firepower to win the match, and we're certainly relishing the challenge.

On a personal note, it was a real thrill to receive our jerseys for the Tonga match from Australian rugby league legend Mal Meninga.

I played against him a few years back and he was just a fantastic player, someone I watched in awe.

He gave us some words of advice about what it takes to be a top side and the squad took a lot out of that.

With inspiration like that and two wins under our belt, we can take things on from the Tongan encounter.





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