Rugby World Cup 2015: Pool A profile – can Wales deliver?

After the heartbreak of 2011, Warren Gatland's men will want to go one better - if they can get out of the group

Warburton - Wales Rugby
(Image credit: Stu Forster/ Getty)

Since finishing third in 1987, Wales have made more World Cup headlines for shock defeats, having lost down the years to Western Samoa, Samoa and Fiji. However, Wales were a solitary point (and a controversial sending-off) away from reaching the final of the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

This time around, Warren Gatland's side will be more experienced and should be even better prepared.

When things aren't going to plan, Wales can look ponderous and unimaginative in attack, although their defence is never far short of colossal. But when they create some attacking momentum, Wales are strong, fast, clinical and a match for any side.

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The nation's World Cup less-than-illustrious heritage will not concern Gatland at all. He has asked the question of his players several times during his tenure whether they really believe in themselves. He's closer than ever before to finding the answer.

Star man: Alun Wyn Jones

Jones is the heartbeat of the Wales side, but the player who has the greatest influence on the outcome of every game he plays is captain Sam Warburton. He'll be expected to win penalties at the breakdown, tackle himself to a standstill and carry dynamically.

One to watch: Taulupe Faletau

The powerful No8 is Wales' most dynamic ball-carrier and a player who makes the hard yards for Wales in what is not the most potent scrummaging pack. Still just 24, the Tongan-born Faletau will win his 50th cap during the World Cup and could well establish himself as one of the players of the tournament.

Coach: Warren Gatland

While domestic rugby in Wales appears to be sliding towards obscurity, Gatland has cemented his reputation as one of the world's finest coaches in his seven years in charge of Wales. A touch blunt and mightily stubborn, he has made good players better and made the team tougher.

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