Wales have pointed the finger at the England prop Joe Marler and called on referee Craig Joubert to ensure the Harlequins front-rower does not scrummage illegally at Twickenham tomorrow.
Marler has tended to get the upper hand against Samson Lee in the pair’s encounters to date but the Wales coaching staff believe that it has not been entirely by fair means.
And the forwards coach, Robin McBryde, warned: “He [Marler] definitely needs to scrummage legally, otherwise we will be pointing a finger.”
Wales believe that Marler was given a let-off by officials in the two sides’ last meeting at Twickenham in the World Cup before being “found out against Australia”, when he was repeatedly penalised.
In contrast, McBryde believes his own players were unfairly treated by officials during that memorable encounter last autumn, which Wales edged 28-25.
“There was a big focus on the loose-head’s angle going into the World Cup,” he said. “It was highlighted to us particularly with regards to Gethin Jenkins and Paul James, and it was an area we focused on a lot.
“So it was very disappointing, especially against England when we fell on the wrong side of decisions and we felt the problem lay elsewhere. All we can hope to do is build a relationship with Craig Joubert so we have a better understanding of where he is coming from and what he is looking at.”
England go into the game with notably more experience, their front row of Marler, Dylan Hartley and Dan Coles boasting 168 caps between them, while the trio of Lee, Scott Baldwin and Rob Evans have roughly a quarter of that international experience, with just 44 Test appearances combined.
But McBryde believes Wales’ front-row combination is in better shape than at the World Cup, where Lee battled to get back to his best form following Achilles surgery.
“There’s a lot of things in the mix at the moment: Samson’s current fitness, Rob Evans is scrummaging the best he ever has and Scott Baldwin is leading from the front as a hooker,” said McBryde.
“It was early days for Samson after his injury, while Tomas Francis’s scrummaging has come on leaps and bounds and we also have Paul James’ experience on the bench along with Ken Owens. So we are in a much better place, irrespective of the opponents.”Reuse content