Wales will target 'lucky' debutant Wood, says Powell

Just when Warren Gatland, Wales's winder-up-in-chief, managed to last an entire press conference without antagonising the English, so piped up Andy Powell. The No 8 yesterday labelled Tom Wood as "quite lucky" and warned the debutant of the reality shock awaiting him in Cardiff tomorrow night.

It was a surprising statement, not least because of the mouth whence it came. Powell's last contribution to the Six Nations headlines came last February when, in the early morning after the victory over Scotland, he was caught in a golf buggy driving on the M4. Now, as he prepares to make just his second international start since, he feels comfortable in giving Wood the hard shoulder.

The Lion was in the Wasps team who lost at home so convincingly to Northampton a few months ago and although Wood was outstanding on the flank that day, Powell is clearly not yet convinced. "He's an all-round player but he's been quite lucky so far I think," he said. "He's been playing a pack going forward and hasn't played with a pack going backwards yet. Hopefully, this Friday he is on the back foot and we can get on top of him."

Neither does Powell feel it will be only himself and his team-mates testing the young blindside's resolve. In the 29-year-old's opinion the 24-year-old should beware the Millennium Stadium frenzy. Wales versus England, on a Friday night, under the lights, perhaps with the roof on, is no place for the wet-behind-the-ear. Wood need only ask Mathew Tait, the centre who suffered a torrid Test introduction in the capital six years ago.

"The boy [Wood] has got a cool head on his shoulders, but Friday night's going to be a different issue," said Powell. "We will try to get into him and make their job harder. The first 20 minutes is massive. If we can build a tidy lead then you know what the crowd will be like. They can get on top of the opposition."

As his words suggest, Powell is confident heading into the Championship opener. "The two boys beside me [Dan Lydiate and Sam Warburton] are terrific athletes, and it will take a good English back-row to stop us," he said.

Since joining Wasps in the summer his performances have improved to the extent that he earns the nod over the former captain Ryan Jones, who as The Independent reported yesterday, must be content with a substitute's jersey. Jones will be joined on the bench by Lee Byrne who has lost his full-back berth to James Hook. But for Byrne's recent inactivity with a broken thumb, it might even have been Stephen Jones, at fly-half, making way for the mercurial talents of Hook.

"Lee misses out solely by virtue of the fact he has had limited game-time," said the backs coach, Rob Howley. The challenge to Stephen Jones is obvious as Wales chase a first victory in eight Tests. Perform. Or else.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam