McBryde backs Owens at hooker
June 2, 2012
Ken Owens made his Test debut in the 2011 World Cup against Namibia © PA Photos
Robin McBryde expects Ken Owens to continue his meteoric rise at hooker on the upcoming tour to Australia.
Owens only made his debut as a substitute against Namibia in the World Cup, then played four times as Warren Gatland's side won a Six Nations grand slam this year. The 25-year-old was part of an advanced party that left for Australia on Thursday. His Scarlets teammate and former Welsh captain Mathew Rees has stayed behind to play against the Barbarians before joining up with the party ahead of the first test in Brisbane next Saturday.
Even with the return of the 2009 Lions' Test hooker, McBryde, Wales' forward coach expects Owens to keep hold of the starting jersey.
"It would be a fair assumption to say Ken Owens is our first-choice hooker," McBryde said. "There isn't a pecking order as such - a lot of things have had an influence on selection in regards to travel and availability. But Ken has shown up well throughout the season and was perhaps unlucky not to start more games during the Six Nations. We're hoping for that form to continue."
Rees was forced to miss the World Cup through injury and is sure to be in determined mood to win back his starting spot. Also in Wales' touring party is Richard Hibbard who travels to Australia having just helped the Ospreys to the RaboDirect PRO12 title.
"It's a very competitive area and things change very quickly in rugby. Competitiveness brings out the edge in people and there's no resting place for anybody in this squad. We have three hookers going on the tour and it's going to be hugely competitive. We want to have the same thing in each and every position."
Wales play tests against Australia in Brisbane on June 9, Melbourne on June 16 and Sydney on June 23. They also have a midweek fixture against the Brumbies in Canberra on Tuesday June 12.
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