Six Nations

Edwards wary of England

2015-02-05 19:02
Shaun Edwards (Getty Images)

Cardiff - England will offer up stern opposition against Wales at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Friday despite a raft of injuries, according to Welsh defence coach Shaun Edwards.

England have been knocked by the absence through injury of centres Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt and Kyle Eastmond, fly-half Owen Farrell, the lock trio of Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes and Geoff Parling, backrowers Tom Wood and Ben Morgan, and prop David Wilson.

The team features only nine survivors from the side that started the 26-17 victory over Australia at Twickenham in the climax to the November programme, and just five from the XV thrashed 30-3 by Wales in Cardiff two years ago.

But Edwards, the former Wigan, England and Britain rugby league legend, insisted that England's strength in depth meant they would always be a dangerous side against which to play.

"I looked at the team and thought about what team would they have picked," he said.

"They've got first choice full-back, right winger and left winger. The No 12 played against us last year and would have started. Tuilagi's missing so maybe there would have been a different change at 13.

"They've got first choice 10, nine, loosehead, hooker. The second rows probably would have had different ones.

"And for me (recalled flanker) James Haskell is the best forward in England at the moment. Then there's (captain Chris) Robshaw and Billy (Vunipola), who lost his position to Ben (Morgan) at the end of the series but he was the first choice for the first two games.

"Any England team you come up against is going to be very, very strong, especially up front. England are the envy of the world when it comes to tight five forwards, particularly second-row forwards."

Edwards added: "There's no doubt any England team you ever play against are going to have a good maul.

"There's a big Bath influence there, with the pivot (George Ford) being a Bath player," the former scrum-half said, likening England's backline play to that of the 13-a-side game.

Edwards also played down England coach Stuart Lancaster's decision to keep the retractable roof of the Millennium Stadium open, predicting more kicking with the forecast for a clear night.

"It's within the rules of the Six Nations and so we just get on with it and abide it. We'll just get on with playing the game," Edwards said.

"Any Wales v England game there's going to be lots of atmosphere. Obviously it does resound a litle bit more with the roof closed, there's no doubt about that, but it'll be a great atmosphere."

He added that the Welsh team were more "focused" this year than last.

"And we're healthy which is a massive factor. Last year we had 18 changes in the Six Nations, England had four and Ireland three and, no surprise, they came out on top.

"Hopefully come game time, we'll be on the money."

Read more on:    england  |  wales  |  six nations  |  shaun edwards  |  rugby

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