Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Edwards: Perfect time to win

Shaun Edwards

Assistant coach Shaun Edwards believes there would be no better way for Wales to end their winless run than by putting one over on old rivals England in Friday night's RBS 6 Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales head into the Cardiff showdown having failed to record a win in their last seven Test matches, having lost three Tests against New Zealand, two against South Africa, one against Australia and only managing a draw against Fiji. They last tasted victory against Italy in the final match of last year's Six Nations.

Edwards said: "It (our record) hasn't reflected how we have played, as we have played against the best teams in the world and in the summer we had our best ever result in New Zealand, which people seem to forget."

He added: "But it is time we started winning and there is no better opponent (to end that run against) than England at the start of the Six Nations as momentum can unite and inspire the nation and the team moving forward, like in 2008.

"The mood in the camp is very buoyant. The guys not in the team tend to betray the unity within a squad and they have been very supportive of the guys in the team which is very important through a campaign."

Wales are expected to face a testing time at the set-piece in Cardiff, with British and Irish Lions props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones missing through injury and Ospreys duo Paul James and Craig Mitchell their replacements.

Despite the focus on the battle between the packs, defensive mastermind Edwards has warned his side that containing an outstanding England back three of Mark Cueto, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden will be crucial, although he acknowledges that the breakdown battle will, as always, be a key factor.

"They have a fantastic back three with a real understanding," he said. "But we have worked hard on our kick chase and we have done a lot of contact work and we are battle hardened.

"We want to be disciplined and combative at the breakdown, with and without the ball, and have good technique.

"It is an east Midlands-orientated England team and I know from speaking to Sir Ian McGeechan about when he was at Northampton that in the East Midlands they pride themselves on their physicality in that area, so we know it will be a tough contest at the breakdown."