Six Nations 2014: Gareth Edwards puts his shirt on Rhys Webb to prosper


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The Independent Online

Legendary scrum-half Gareth Edwards says Wales's odd man out Rhys Webb "deserves his chance" to run out at Twickenham today, but Edwards is predicting a "difficult" day for the rookie.

Ospreys scrum-half Webb, 25, won his sixth Wales cap in the victory over France a fortnight ago. And Edwards – who, even in his most glittering of rugby careers, knew what it was to fall flat on his face at Twickenham – told The Independent on Sunday: "It is a big ask, and you never know if he will be prepared for it. Rhys will have to concentrate, and I'm sure [England's scrum-half] Danny Care will want to show him a trick or two. A full Twickenham is something to behold, and the atmosphere is different. The record shows, though, that most of this Wales team have got a win there before, albeit it was a very close match two years ago. That'll stand them in good stead and help the newcomer as well."

Webb has fought back from shoulder surgery in May 2011, and an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the last match of the season in May 2013. In between he had the smallest of parts in Wales's 2012 Grand Slam with a 10-minute debut against Italy. He is a veteran of 100 appearances for the Ospreys.

"Since Mike Phillips has been in there [for Wales], over the last six years everybody has been knocking on the door for a chance," said Edwards. "Lloyd Williams, Tavis Knoyle, Richie Rees have all had their moments in the sun but nobody's been able to oust the big man. This boy Webb deserves his chance, he's been playing well since his knee injury and he got the better of Rhodri Williams [of the Scarlets] in the Christmas derby match.

"I'm loath to build these boys up but he's a very competent scrum-half, he's got a good service and against France he did what was required of him. He didn't overplay his hand, he had good possession and he used it well.

"The loss of [injured prop] Alex Corbisiero has weakened some of England's game but it will be a very, very tough encounter.

"I like Care, he takes looking after. Who knows, if tactically England are getting the upper hand, Mike might have to come on sooner rather than later.

"Whoever is on the front foot will determine who wins the game, and the goalkickers have a say in it as well."