The introduction of younger players into the international set up has been credited with Wales’ surge to the Rugby World Cup semi finals, according to assistant coach Robin McBryde.
While the Welsh side is peppered with some experienced players such as props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, lock Alun Wyn Jones, scrum-half Mike Phillips and veteran wing Shane Williams, there is also a large sprinkling of youngsters.
“The only weight of expectation we have on our shoulders is the pressure we’re putting on ourselves,” McBryde said ahead of Saturday’s World Cup semi-final against France.
“Because of the youth in the squad we’re relatively unburdened by the pressure of expectancy.
“It’s very much about going into the match with the same mindset as we took into the game against Ireland last week,” the former Llanelli and Wales hooker said in reference to last week’s 22-10 quarter-final win over the Irish.
McBryde, whose own club and international career spanned the amateur, when he worked as an overhead linesman, and professional eras, acknowledged the likes of 23-year-old captain Sam Warburton were now becoming the norm.
“There’s a new breed coming through, we’re all aware of that, with professionalism and players coming through academy systems,” he said.
“Experience is an advantage at certain times but also it can work against you when the same old faces are doing the same old things.
“When you see the blend of youth and experience we have in the squad, it’s definitely youth that have gained the upper hand with regards to the way they approach the games.
“It’s very much a question of going out there, enjoying it and doing the same again, and not putting any limits on their potential.”
Turning to France, McBryde highlighted their front five, who can attack lineouts and produce damaging driving mauls, as key to the game.
“We’re aware of the threats France pose, it’s a different challenge, especially up front where they’ve been looking for that dominance,” he said.
“We’ll pay France the respect they’re due but we don’t want to take away too much from our game either.
“We take confidence from how good we’ve been. We’ve been very good at scrum-time where we’ve delivered clean ball in an area that has been messy.
“Our ability to hold onto the ball, go through the phases and ask a few questions of their fitness up front will go a long way to seeing how the result goes,” he added.