Wales start chomping at the bit for next week’s training
Wales hooker Ken Owens is relishing the prospect of training against England’s forwards next week when both countries crank up their autumn Test preparations.
The controlled session on Monday, overseen by 2015 World Cup final referee Nigel Owens, will concentrate on scrums and lineouts.
The arch-rivals’ workout in Bristol comes just five days before Wales tackle Australia and England host Argentina at Twickenham.
“We are looking forward to it,” British and Irish Lions forward Owens said. “It’s going to take us out of our comfort zone.
“When you scrummage in training against the same boys week in, week out, you tend to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses pretty quickly and it can give you a false sense of security at times.
“We will know what is coming with the England pack, but it will be much more like a game environment and hopefully that will aid us in being able to start on the front foot against Australia.
“It’s great. Even with competitive lineouts with your squad mates, it’s a lot more difficult because they know what’s coming. So going up against England will be a very good test for us.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland is not due to name his starting line-up for the Wallabies clash until next Thursday, but he is likely to go in with playmakers at 10 and 12 — potentially Dan Biggar and Gloucester’s Owen Williams.
England and the Lions have employed such an approach with considerable success and, if Williams does get the nod for what would be only his second cap, then Owens knows all about his ability.
The pair were Scarlets teammates before Williams left for Leicester in 2013 — he moved to Gloucester earlier this year — and Owens added: “He was great for us in his final season for us. He took us to the play-offs in that year, and he has thrived at Leicester and Gloucester.
“He is a real playmaker, a good passer of the ball with a good kicking game.
“It’s something that worked in the summer with the Lions — two 10s [Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell], two first receivers playing at 10 and 12.
“If the coaching staff decide to go with that, I am sure Owen would like to put his hand up for both, 10 or 12. It’s something he has done previously, but there is a lot of competition.
“We have spoken for a while about evolving our game, and it’s something that has happened gradually and quite slowly at the moment, but it’s something that has been put into us that we’ve got the licence to play and try things out. You are definitely seeing that on the training field so far.
“We’ve mixed things up, we’ve played a lot of conditioning games to get our skill-set under fatigue a lot better, and playing with an expansive game is aiding that.”