Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wales rugby seek forward edge against England

Wales seem certain to target England's novice front row as they try to dominate the scrum when the teams meet for next week's Six Nations opener at Twickenham.

Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, is on course to select an all-British and Irish Lions front row of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones.

The Test-hardened trio could find themselves up against an inexperienced combination of Tim Payne, Dylan Hartley and possibly the uncapped Dan Cole, with injuries currently depriving England of Phil Vickery and Andrew Sheridan among others.

"We will target certain areas, depending on who they pick up front," Gatland said at the Six Nations media launch in London on Wednesday.

"I am happy with our experience in the front five. Games are won up front, and it is important that our tight five fronts up," the New Zealander, himself a former hooker, added.

Wales are aiming for only their second victory at Twickenham in 22 years but the return of Jones is an undoubted boost to their hopes of making a winning start to this season's Six Nations.

The 28-year-old was in fine form for the Lions during last year's tour of South Africa before a shoulder injury in the second Test cut short his participation.

Jones missed all four of Wales's Tests in November as a result but looked back to somewhere near his best during the Ospreys' European Cup victory over English champions Leicester last weekend.

"It is good to have Adam back," said Wales captain Ryan Jones.

"You cannot win Test matches without a set-piece, and Adam brings a certain stability to our scrum."

Meanwhile Gatland was relishing the prospect of playing England at their headquarters ground.

"It is a great game to be starting with," said the former Ireland coach.

"I just hope it will be the catalyst it was two years ago, which gave us the confidence and momentum for the rest of the championship.

"Both teams are very similar, and whoever wins will go in with a bit of confidence for the rest of the championship.

"The two sides will be desperate to win and both sides realise how important it is to win the first game.

"But the pleasing thing, both against Australia and New Zealand, was our territory and possession increased from the previous year.

"We had them under pressure," Gatland insisted.

Ireland V Wales Hospitality

England V Ireland Hospitality

Italy V England Hospitality

Six Nations Hospitality

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