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Skipper Ken Owens confident Wales can bounce back against Scotland

10 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Ken Owens. Photo John Walton PA Images

Ken Owens says he is confident Wales can recover quickly and “right the wrongs” when they resume Guinness Six Nations business at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Wales tackle Scotland a week after suffering their heaviest Six Nations home defeat for 22 years.

A 34-10 reversal against title favourites Ireland put Wales on the back foot, while Scotland opened their campaign with a stirring Calcutta Cup victory over England.

Wales, though, have an impressive record in the Scottish capital, winning on six of their last seven visits.

“I don’t think we were as bad last Saturday as a lot of people made out,” Wales captain Owens said.

“Ireland were very good, and there were some lessons in being clinical and accurate. It is something we have emphasised this week and worked on.

“Scotland will be favourites, with winning a big game at Twickenham, winning the Calcutta Cup, so they will be looking at going back-to-back victories.

“We are on a bit of a journey and growing. It’s still early days under new coaches with a new squad.

“We are confident we can bounce back and right the wrongs of last week and be a lot more clinical and a lot more physical.

“We take the Six Nations very seriously, and we are disappointed to be out of Grand Slam and Triple Crown contention.”

Five changes 

Hooker Owens and lock Adam Beard are the only Wales forwards retained in their starting positions, with head coach Warren Gatland making five changes up front and one positional switch.

Among those left out are British and Irish Lions trio Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau – they have 342 Wales caps between them – with Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza and Tommy Reffell all gaining starts.

Tshiunza and Reffell feature in a reshaped back-row that sees Jac Morgan move from blindside flanker to number eight instead of Faletau, while Alun Wyn Jones and Tipuric are not in Gatland’s match-day 23.

Owens added: “There have been some changes, especially in the pack, and giving some of the young boys an opportunity to get experience at this top level.

“They have deserved the chance following their performances at club level.

“There is depth in Welsh rugby. It’s exciting that boys are having opportunities to gain experience, for this tournament and the World Cup that is coming.

“It is going to be a full-blooded Test match. They beat England last year, then came to Cardiff and came up short.

“They will be looking to come at us, and certainly we are looking at doing that and bouncing back from the defeat last weekend.”

Perfect record

During his previous stint as Wales boss between 2008 and 2019, Gatland had a perfect record against Scotland of played 11, won 11.

But he is well aware of the challenge Scotland will pose as they target winning their two opening Six Nations games for the first time.

Gatland said: “It is all about momentum, and they have created some great momentum from last week.

“They are a tough side and are pretty confident in the way they want to play. They’ve got great balance in their team at the moment.

“They defend well and work hard for each other, they are pretty slick in attack, have continuity with players who have been there for a while and a bench that can make an impact.

“They are probably the strongest I’ve seen a Scottish team for a long, long time.”

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