WALES assistant coach Rob Howley admits he and the players are beginning to dream after arriving in Auckland with 80 minutes against France lying between themselves and the World Cup final. Speaking on the team’s arrival, Howley (inset) said: “Its a pretty special place to be. Auckland’s a pretty famous place in rugby terms and who would’ve thought five months ago this Welsh side would be in Auckland? We’re on a journey or a dream and we want that journey and dream to continue.” Meanwhile, Luke Charteris and Rhys Priestland, who both took blows to their shoulders during Saturday’s victory over Ireland, are likely to be fit in time to face the French.

IRELAND hooker Rory Best admits his devastated team-mates are tormented by their failed attempt to win a World Cup. An epic quarter-final at Wellington Regional Stadium ended with Wales emerging from a gripping contest deserved 22-10 winners. Victory over Australia in the pool stages hinted at the potential within the Irish ranks and Best conceded defeat against Wales represented a huge missed opportunity. “It will take a while to get over this. There’s no doubt that this was a fantastic chance, we all knew it,” he said. “The bottom line is that we travelled to New Zealand to win the World Cup. We didn't talk a whole lot about it, but that was our ambition. Any time you get to that stage of a competition it’s always an opportunity missed, unless you get to the final and win it.”

FRANCE coach Marc Lievremont believes Wales will provide a sterner test of his side’s World Cup ambitions than England did in Saturday’s quarter-final. Lievremont said: “They came out of the hardest pool, having lost to South Africa, when they deserved to win – I thought to myself they wouldn’t recover from that. They play a great style of rugby, more complete than what England showed in the tournament. The way they controlled Ireland was impressive.” France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili also knows the size of the task facing his side. He said: “We have a big clash next Saturday. Wales are a very good team and look well in their game plan.”