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Character key for McBryde

Robin McBryde has paid tribute to a pumped-up Wales pack for answering the critics and orchestrating an RBS 6 Nations demolition job on France.

Led by inspired captain Sam Warburton, the Wales forwards delivered a display unrecognisable from the weak and disorganised effort on show against Ireland a fortnight earlier.

They even overcame the absence of talisman lock Alun-Wyn Jones due to a foot infection, with his replacement Jake Ball producing an outstanding performance alongside fellow second-row workhorse Luke Charteris.

"I think that was the best way to prove a point," Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist McBryde said.

"Only they can answer the criticisms that were pointed their way last week. They came back strongly, and I think it was a lesson against Ireland that you can't rely on reputation alone.

"The character of who you are is the most important thing, and to a man they showed plenty of character.

"The mini units worked - the front-row, the back-row, the two locks. All things considered, it is a step in the right direction, and I am sure it will make them hungry for a bit more in two weeks' time."

England now await on March 9, and Wales boss Warren Gatland will relish the challenge of plotting a third win from four Twickenham visits since he took charge for the 2008 Six Nations campaign.

"There is never any lack of motivation when you play against England," Gatland said.

"At this level, there is so much emotion involved, and two weeks ago we were a bit off it. Sometimes a team has something to prove.

"They (Ireland) had that two weeks ago, and we had it against France. You could feel it in the changing room beforehand. In international rugby you have to be on edge mentally and emotionally, and I thought we were.

"I think we are back in (title) contention, but we have a big game coming in a couple of weeks. It may all come down to the last game at home (against Scotland) with a bit of luck.

"We have got some confidence back, we can build some momentum and we have had some good results at Twickenham in the past. Someone made a good point that in the last three years the only team we have lost to (in the Six Nations) is Ireland.

"The message before France was to empty the tank. That is all you can ask for as coaches, for players to give 100 per cent, and they did that.

"We knew that Jake Ball, having just come in at this level wasn't going to get to 80 minutes - but he gave us everything, and so did everyone who took the pitch.

"Even though there was a lot of criticism (after Ireland) and people calling for wholesale changes, I am a great believer in giving players the chance to redeem themselves. That's definitely what happened.

"I have been involved in poor performances myself as a player, and you always want the chance to put things right."

Wales captain Sam Warburton said: "The pain we felt after Ireland fuelled the last two weeks of training. There has been a lot of attention to detail and everyone has really knuckled down.

"It is the hardest I have seen us work. Everyone was desperate to do well, those who started the game and those who came off the bench.

"Even in the last five minutes we were desperate not to concede any more points because we know how important the points difference is.

"We know that from last season, when we went into the final game (against England) having to win by seven points, and it focused our efforts in defence."


From Belfast Telegraph