Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Edwards looks for improved defence

Shaun Edwards has urged Wales to tighten up their defence from turnover ball as they prepare for the threat of England's strike-runners in Friday night's RBS 6 Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium.

The showdown will see Wales aiming to halt a run of seven Tests without a win. England, meanwhile, have not triumphed in Cardiff since they were crowned 2003 world champions under current manager Martin Johnson's captaincy, but - if they are to end that run - England's dangerous back three of Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto could play significant roles.

And the warning signals have not bypassed Wales defence coach Edwards, who said: "England were pretty lethal from turnover ball against Australia - that was probably the performance of the home nations during the autumn series. England's back three can be lethal from turnover ball, and it is something we need to improve our defence on."

Edwards added: "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, whose squad is bolstered by the return of fit-again Lions Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Shane Williams, 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 full-back, 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 number 15 shirt, with Stephen Jones at 10 and 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 number eight.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph