Edwards demands watertight defence
January 31, 2011
Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards knows turnover ball could be costly against England on Friday night © Getty Images
Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards has warned his side that turnover ball could prove fatal against England in their Six Nations clash at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.
The eagerly-anticipated clash is the opening act in this year's battle for northern hemisphere supremacy and pitches a Wales team without a win in their last seven Test encounters against and England side looking to record their first victory in Cardiff since 2003.
If Wales are to return to winning ways they will need to neutralise England's dangerous back three of Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto and Edwards is well aware of the threat they pose. "England were pretty lethal from turnover ball against Australia - that was probably the performance of the home nations during the autumn series," he said.
"England's back three can be lethal from turnover ball, and it is something we need to improve our defence on. It was definitely our Achilles' heel in the autumn. When we turned the ball over, we were punished by some pretty special teams. We have to react more quickly than we did in the autumn."
Wales coach Warren Gatland is due to announce his starting line-up on Wednesday, with the big selection debate surrounding Ospreys star James Hook. Perpignan-bound Hook could start at either fly-half, centre or fullback, but it looks a strong bet he will be on the bench alongside the likes of Ryan Jones and Dwayne Peel.
Gatland seems set to prefer Lee Byrne in the No.15 shirt, with Stephen Jones at 10 and Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies forging the midfield partnership. Injured props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, meanwhile, are likely to be replaced by Ospreys forwards Paul James and Craig Mitchell, with Wasps' Andy Powell featuring at No.8.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games