Dewi Lake puts injury woes behind him to lead out Wales at Twickenham
Dewi Lake will captain Wales for the first time on Saturday after an injury-hit 12 months plunged his Test career into cold storage.
More than a year after his last Wales appearance against South Africa in Cape Town, the Ospreys hooker has a chance to display World Cup leadership credentials.
As the countdown continues to Warren Gatland announcing Wales’ World Cup squad, Lake follows flanker Jac Morgan in being appointed skipper against tournament warm-up opponents England.
A third leadership candidate is likely to take the reins when Wales host South Africa on Saturday week, then Gatland names his 33-player group for France.
Lake missed the whole of Wales’ international schedule last term as a shoulder injury ruled him out of their autumn campaign, then a knee problem put paid to any Six Nations hopes.
“It is always tough with injuries and then they always seem to pile on each other,” Lake said.
“One comes after the next and you think am I going to break this cycle of getting a good run of games and showing that I’m good enough to be selected?
“But no, I am grateful for the work of the people behind the scenes at the Ospreys put in with me to get me back fit. And here we are, I guess.”
Morgan set a high bar with his display when Wales saw off England 20-9 in Cardiff last weekend, delivering a performance that must surely have put him in pole position as potential World Cup captain.
“I think it is important to try to lead from the front, lead by example, as Jac did last weekend,” Lake added, ahead of the Twickenham rematch.
“Hopefully, if I can do anything as well as he has, then I will be on to a winner.
“There are boys that don’t need to be told anything. They have got the experience, they know what they are doing.
“Maybe some boys like a pat on the back if they have done something well or an arm around them if they’ve messed up. Some boys need to be shouted at if they’ve messed up because that is what kicks them into the next gear.
“Your (captaincy) style is all about knowing your team and knowing who you’ve got around you and being able to cater to how they are going to react to things.”
Gatland has made 15 changes for the England clash, with wing Josh Adams winning his 50th cap, while centre Joe Roberts makes a Test debut and the likes of fly-half Owen Williams, lock Rhys Davies and number eight Taine Plumtree also gain opportunities.
On the edge
Roberts’ midfield partner Nick Tompkins said: “We are playing for a spot on that plane. It is something you can’t forget about.
“I would be lying if I said you weren’t a little bit on the edge. No-one really feels safe, no-one feels their position is locked down.
“It brings a lot of intensity and it brings a lot of positive emotions. This game, there is a lot on it. I definitely feel that way.
“A lot of people are talking about England coming back and trying to bounce back from the last performance, but you forget there’s 23 (Wales) players back there who are all fighting for their lives to be in the World Cup.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.