Edwards bounces back from Lions snub
January 28, 2013
Shaun Edwards is targeting another victorious Six Nations campaign for Wales © Getty Images
Shaun Edwards is adamant that the disappointment of missing out on a place in the British & Irish Lions backroom staff is behind him and he is focused on guiding Wales to potentially another Grand Slam.
Edwards was a shock omission from the Lions' coaching staff for the tour when their boss Warren Gatland unveiled his backroom staff. The pair have worked together with Wales and also with Wasps in the past, but Gatland opted for Andy Farrell instead of Edwards - a decision which the Kiwi described as "agonising" and "difficult".
While Gatland will be joined in Australia by Wales' Six Nations interim head coach Rob Howley, plus England assistants Farrell and Graham Rowntree, Edwards will be journeying to Japan with Wales. But in the meantime, he will be focused on ending Wales' run of seven straight losses and starting their Six Nations campaign on a winning note.
"Obviously, everyone wants to go on a Lions tour, as a player and as a coach," Edwards said. "But the decision has been made. 'Gats' has made his decision, and obviously I am abiding by it. I am not going to forget how much Warren Gatland has done for me over the last 10 years. Most of the things I have achieved in coaching have been through him and his help.
"He has been a great mentor for me, and hopefully he will continue to be that in the future. He has made a decision which went against me, but there is no way my loyalty will be questioned. I couldn't be more determined. I had a break over the Christmas period, I went on holiday, and I am very much focused on trying to defend our (Six Nations) championship."
Wales will launch their Six Nations title defence against Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday. Howley is due to name his starting line-up on Thursday, with Dan Biggar a firm favourite to replace injured fly-half Rhys Priestland, while fitness permitting, the second-row partnership is pointing towards Ospreys pair Ryan Jones and Ian Evans.
Jones is recovering from a dislocated thumb suffered a fortnight ago, while Evans has not played since the autumn because of knee trouble. Should either, or both, be ruled out of contention to face Ireland, then a selection door would probably open for uncapped locks like James King, Andrew Coombs and Harlequins' Olly Kohn.
Kohn only received the call up to Wales on Friday but he could make his debut come the weekend. "Olly plays for the team (Quins) who are number one seeds in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, so he is obviously operating at quite a high level," Edwards said. "He is a very, very powerful scrummaging, genuine tighthead second-row, and there are not that many of them about nowadays. We felt we needed beefing up in that area. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, Olly will potentially get his chance.
"He brings a physical presence. His scrummaging power would be at the forefront of his game, but he has other parts, too. That was his first training session today, so clearly lineout calls are all new to him, but he plays for the number one-seeded team in the Heineken Cup and he's a pretty smart operator."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra