Six Nations: Wales 'will deserve a beer' if they beat England says coach Rob Howley

Wales play England in Cardiff tomorrow

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The Independent Online

Wales boss Rob Howley has no doubt his players will “deserve a beer” if they complete a stunning transformation from opening weekend flops to RBS 6 Nations champions.

It is just six weeks ago that Wales trailed Ireland by 27 points at home with almost half the game left.

But when Wales return to the Millennium Stadium tomorrow for Grand Slam-chasing England's visit, it will be on the back of three successive away wins and harbouring a realistic title chance, despite that 30-22 loss to Ireland.

Wales have not successfully defended the Five or Six Nations crown since 1979, yet a minimum eight-point victory this weekend would guarantee they achieve that feat.

A seven-point margin would also be enough - provided they stay ahead of unbeaten England on tournament try-count - to wilt the red rose.

"The players have been absolutely fantastic over the last five weeks and have put themselves in a position (to challenge for the title), after regaining momentum," Howley said.

"They will deserve a beer on Saturday night if that happens."

Howley, meanwhile, has again put the team dynamic before individuals with his choice of captain for tomorrow's clash.

Howley has appointed Toulon prop Gethin Jenkins as the third different Wales skipper of this season's Six Nations campaign after Sam Warburton and Ryan Jones.

Jones broke a bone in his shoulder during last weekend's victory over Scotland, and he is replaced in the back row by Justin Tipuric, with Warburton wearing Wales' number six shirt.

Howley has decided for a second successive game not to reinstall Warburton - last season's Grand Slam skipper - as captain, preferring instead to let him concentrate on his own game.

That approach worked a treat at Murrayfield six days ago when Warburton delivered a towering man-of-the-match display.

"I spoke to Sam," Howley added. "I think as a coach you have a gut feeling about a player and how he feels, and you always take a player's form into consideration.

"With Sam, the way he played against Scotland, the gut feeling was that I would rather he focused on his own game.

"That is how I saw it, and you have to make those difficult decisions when they come. It is in the best interests of the national team to be best prepared for England this weekend that Gethin Jenkins captains this side."

High on Wales' agenda tomorrow will be getting their penalty count back into single figures following the dozen conceded against Scotland.

With a marksman as accurate as Owen Farrell in the opposition ranks, it is vital Wales do not get on the wrong side of match referee Steve Walsh.

"Your (penalty) target is under 10. The history of the game suggests that if your penalty count is around that area, you are going to go on and win the game," Howley added.

"It is about the unity and trust you have as a team, and I speak to the players about not solving problems on their own, but solving them together.

"They have shown over the last five weeks they have the unity and trust and discipline within the group."