Wales targeting scrum power in the Six Nations

Wales looking to defend crown

Wales will look for scrum power to be an integral part of their attacking armoury in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Bolstered by the return from injuries of Ospreys prop Adam Jones and Exeter tighthead Craig Mitchell, the scrum is an area where Wales should be noticeably stronger than during this season's autumn Tests when they lost all four games.

"We would like to think going into this campaign that our scrum can be used as an attacking weapon," Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards said.

"Adam, in particular, is a big weapon come scrum-time. In last year's 6 Nations our scrum was a big weapon for us, so hopefully that will return."

Wales failed to establish themselves in the scrum battle against either Argentina or Samoa two months ago, and Edwards also believes it is essential the referee's instructions are grasped far more quickly.

Frenchman Romain Poite refereed the Argentina game, and he will also be in charge when Wales kick off their 6 Nations campaign against Millennium Stadium visitors Ireland next Saturday.

"There is no doubt in those first two games (of the autumn), the scrum was an issue," Edwards added. "We didn't win a scrum in the second-half against Argentina.

"It is very important we learn from that game, and that we have to listen to Romain Poite. I don't think we reacted quickly enough to Mr Poite's instructions in that game.

"He's a world-class referee, and we have to listen to his instructions and react quickly to them."

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley is due to name his starting line-up on Thursday, with Dan Biggar a firm favourite to replace injured fly-half Rhys Priestland, and fitness permitting, the second-row partnership is pointing towards Ospreys pair Ryan Jones and Ian Evans.

Jones is recovering from a dislocated thumb suffered a fortnight ago, while Evans has not played since the autumn because of knee trouble. Wales are already without injured locks Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies.

Should Jones or Evans, or both, be ruled out of contention to face Ireland, then a selection door would probably open for uncapped locks like James King, Andrew Coombs and Harlequins' Olly Kohn.

Wales have not beaten another Test-playing country since defeating France to clinch the 6 Nations title and a third Grand Slam in eight years at the Millennium Stadium last March.

And Edwards said: "In the autumn, it took us two-and-a-half games to get going, to get up to the speed of international rugby, in all aspects of the game. We were a yard off the pace.

"Our attack in the second-half against the All Blacks was absolutely fantastic, and against Australia we conceded 14 points, which is the lowest we have conceded against them by a considerable margin.

"But it took us two-and-a-half games to get to that level. We can't afford to do that this time. We have to hit the ground running."

PA

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