Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peel gets Wales nod after “raising tempo against Argentina”

DWAYNE PEEL has won the battle of the scrum-halves and will wear the No 9 jersey for Wales v Australia.

The Sale Sharks half-back has got the nod ahead of Blues rival Gareth Cooper for Saturday’s big Millennium Stadium showdown.

Peel came off the bench to replace Cooper midway through the second half of the comfortable 33-16 victory over Argentina last weekend.

“Dwayne has had limited time on the park but did particularly well in raising the tempo of the game when he came on last weekend,” said Howley.

“It’s an historic occasion as this is the first time the Blues have played as a region against an international side.

“We are more than happy with Gareth’s performances so far and it’s an opportunity to give Dwayne and Martin a run at number nine.

“Dwayne and Gareth are level at the moment (for the scrum-half spot) but the autumn Test series is an opportunity to give players a game.

“And Dwayne and Martin will have that opportunity on Saturday.”

I like to take people on and run from my own line and, if England do not agree with that style of rugby, I am not their man." England may not be playing well, but their two home matches in next year's Six Nations hospitalityare already sell-outs and all the hospitality for the first game, against Wales in February, have been taken. Australia and New Zealand are not so fortunate commercially and they will express their concerns about the stagnancy of the game on the field at this weekend's gathering of the International Rugby Board's general assembly in Dublin, followed by a meeting of the council.

Peel is one of only two possible changes to the Wales starting line-up to face the wounded Wallabies.

“We want to go into the Six Nations rugby with momentum and confidence.

“We beat them 21-18 last year and we go into the game knowing we need to find another level if we are to repeat that.”

Meanwhile, Howley underlined the importance of Shaun Edwards to the Wales set-up yesterday.

The future of England defence coach Mike Ford has been the subject of much speculation with reports linking him to the vacant position of England rugby league coach.

But Edwards, who signed a deal with Wales until the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, would be the favourite to replace Ford.

The former Wasps head coach met Martin Johnson, the England manager, only days after he had agreed his deal with Wales following Grand Slam success in 2008.

Edwards, who was the Lions defence coach and is widely regarded as the best in the world, has made no secret of his desire to coach England at some point during his career.

“I have been a player under Shaun and his emotion and technical and tactical knowledge of the game is immense,” said Howley.

“The one thing, in terms of this coaching set-up, is pure honesty. That is what you get from Shaun.

“He made a statement when we first came into the Wales set-up two years ago, he told the players: ‘You miss a tackle, I miss a tackle’.

“Everybody is aware of their roles and responsibilities in defence and there is no doubt that when Shaun came on board we were leaking too many tries.

“It has certainly been a benefit to have Shaun on board with Wales and long may that continue.”

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