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Howley affair will serve to drive Wales on, insists Owens

 

Wales’ Ken Owens says the Rob Howley betting affair will help galvanise his side for the World Cup (Jane Barlow/PA)
Wales’ Ken Owens says the Rob Howley betting affair will help galvanise his side for the World Cup (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Andrew Baldock

Wales hooker Ken Owens says his side will use the Rob Howley betting affair as "a galvanising force" as their World Cup campaign prepares for kick-off.

Assistant coach Howley was sent home from Japan earlier this week for an alleged breach of World Rugby's betting regulations.

"We are never short of a little bit of adversity in Welsh rugby or a story breaking in a match week," Owens said ahead of Monday's Georgia opener. "The boys have just responded perfectly. We've just had to get on with it and use it as a galvanising force."

Howley (48) has returned to Wales to assist with an investigation relating to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation six, specifically betting on rugby union.

Owens, who is chairman of the Welsh Rugby Players' Association, revealed the Wales squad had a pre-arranged World Rugby integrity briefing - which are given to all World Cup nations - a day after the Howley matter was announced.

"All the boys, especially back home, get integrity briefings and reminders of it every season in terms of anti-doping, betting and all the rest of it," Owens added.

"We had an integrity briefing the day after the announcement with Rob. We all know where we stand, and all the players are aware. The way the Union (Welsh Rugby Union) have dealt with it has been brilliant. It's been to the point.

"They got it done as quickly as possible, and it shifted the focus straight back to the rugby. As players, all we can control is our performance on Monday.

"The best way to do that is to be sharp and accurate in training, making sure our own house is in order so we can put in a performance against Georgia.

"It has been difficult. It's been a bit of a shell-shock to the boys. We haven't had time to reflect or dwell too much on it because we have got a job to do."

Wales assistant Neil Jenkins, a former international team-mate and a coaching colleague of Howley's, said: "I have spoken to Rob. He was okay. He is a very close friend. It's happened, and we have to move forward."

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