Rugby Union

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards fully aware of England's attacking threat

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Football News

Shaun Edwards accepts Wales face a huge World Cup challenge when they attempt to pull the plug on England's "electric" backs at Twickenham next week.

While the 2011 World Cup semi-finalists open their campaign against tournament minnows Uruguay this weekend, many rugby observers already have their sights trained on a Pool A showdown between England and Wales in 10 days' time.

And Wales defence specialist Edwards says no stone will be left unturned during preparations to shackle all-singing, all-dancing England stars like Anthony Watson, Jonny May and Jonathan Joseph.


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"You have to counteract certain aspects of the attacking strengths," Edwards said.

"England backs have fantastic footwork, so I won't hide the fact we have been practising a lot against people with really good feet and that sort of player.

"If you look at the back line in Anthony Watson and Jonny May, while Jonathan Joseph is probably in the top three number 13s in the world at the moment, I would say, and was the top try-scorer in the last Six Nations, we are fully aware of the threat that is coming our way.

"England have scored the most points in the last two Six Nations, so we are playing against a very potent attacking team who can hit you in all ways.

"They have some electric backs and play expansive rugby, but they can also hit you through the forwards with a mauling game. We have got our hands full and know we have a huge challenge ahead, but we are preparing well for that challenge.

"We have been practising with our own guys, and we have got players with good feet with people like Hallam Amos.

"We have a lot of big backs, powerful guys who if you run pretty much straight at them I am confident our guys will be able to tackle you.

"That's why we have been working on all aspects of our defence, both head-on tackling as well as our defence against people with tricky feet, and the English players are very good in that aspect of the game."

Former rugby league star Edwards, meanwhile, has praised England's Sam Burgess following his switch from the 13-a-side code to a place in the World Cup match-day 23 in Friday night's World Cup opener against Fiji.

"I think Sam has been massively improving," ex-Great Britain and Wigan half-back Edwards added.

"Like any player, it was a big change for him to change sport, but for Sam to change from a forward to a back as well, that made it even harder for him.

"Sometimes you see the merit of a player when he's in a losing team. I watched the English grand final (between Bath and Saracens last May), and I thought Sam was Bath's best forward.

"He really put himself about and did a load of work in a team that was under a lot of pressure that day.

"We know how much guts and bravery he's got, but I thought that game in particular was an excellent performance from him. Sam has acquitted himself very, very well."

But while England might be looming large, Edwards feels there is no danger of Wales' players taking their eye off the ball when 5,000-1 World Cup outsiders Uruguay arrive at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

"It's the opening day of a World Cup (campaign) and it's in their own country. It's the chance of a career," Edwards said.

"To be involved in a game which is one of the opening games of a World Cup, if you can't get motivated for that, then you are probably in the wrong sport."

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