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Former England fly-half Alex King relishing Six Nations role with Wales

Alex King says he is "immensely proud" to be part of Wales' coaching team for the RBS 6 Nations Championship this season.

Englishman King, who left his role as Northampton attack coach last October and will link up with current Scotland boss Vern Cotter at French club Montpellier next season, has joined the Wales staff on a two-month basis.

And for former England fly-half King, it is a chance to work again alongside his one-time Wasps half-back partner and current interim Wales head coach Rob Howley, plus former Wasps assistant Shaun Edwards, who will embark on a 10th Six Nations campaign as defence specialist.

"I met Rob at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club at the beginning of December, and when he sold the opportunity to me it was just a fantastic chance to work with him and Shaun again," King said.

"I am immensely proud to be part of the team moving forwards into the Six Nations.

"I am here for two months, and for me it is an opportunity to put some ideas in place, but not radically change the improvements which came over the course of the autumn.

"I thought there was some good stuff in the South Africa game (in November), and I am really excited by the squad and the young players coming in."

Howley's 36-man Six Nations squad includes seven uncapped players, and first on the agenda is a potentially awkward Rome appointment with Italy - now coached by former Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea - on February 5.

Wales have an unwanted reputation as slow starters in tournaments and autumn campaigns, and lost 32-8 to Australia in November in their opening autumn international.

But with Six Nations title holders and favourites England looming just six days after the Italy game, King knows there is no time to waste.

"We've got two weeks before the first game, and I have had a good chat with a couple of the players to make sure we are all on the same page for next week, because that preparation is absolutely key," King added.

"The way Wales started in the autumn, we need to make sure that doesn't happen in Rome because this is Italy's first Six Nations with Conor and they are a proud team. It's a game where we have to make sure we are spot on.

"There were improvements in the autumn, but from my point of view I need to make sure there is absolute clarity about how we are trying to play, try and simplify things a little bit and make sure we're asking questions of opposition defences.

"The bonus points system (in the Six Nations) adds a new incentive for attacking rugby, and if we prepare well and attack well, we will get those rewards."

Many pundits are already billing England's clash with Ireland in Dublin on March 18 as a Grand Slam decider, but King anticipates "a few twists and turns" in a competition that Wales last won four years ago.

"They (England) have had a change in management and mindset, and they've been on an incredible run," he said.

"They are Grand Slam champions so they will go in as favourites. They've got a few injury concerns at the moment, but the thing with English rugby is they have got serious strength in depth.

"That is their greatest strength - the amount of players they've got to choose from - so they've got that insurance policy.

"They are going well, but there are a lot of good teams in this tournament. There is a lot of talk about Ireland against England in Dublin on the final weekend being a Grand Slam decider, but I am sure there will be a few twists and turns."


From Belfast Telegraph