Wales v England, Six Nations Championship, February 14
Wales wait on injured trio
February 9, 2009
Skipper Ryan Jones was ruled out of the clash with Scotland with a calf strain © Getty Images
Wales are hoping for a triple injury boost as they build toward their Six Nations showdown with England at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Captain Ryan Jones, centre Gavin Henson and wing Shane Williams have all been given extra time to prove their fitness ahead of the crunch clash as they battle calf and ankle injuries respectively. Coach Warren Gatland has postponed tomorrow's planned team announcement until Thursday while the medical staff assess the casualty list.
Jones and Henson were both ruled out of the 26-13 victory over Scotland on Sunday while Williams twisted his ankle and was forced out of the game in the second half.
Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said, "We have got a few injuries, but we do have a few days to get them right for Saturday."
Wales will have huge backing in the Millennium Stadium and have been rated as the bookmakers' firm favourites for victory. Jenkins said, "They (England) had a very good win against Italy. They won't be overly pleased with the performance, but they scored five tries. But it's a very different game when they come to Cardiff. It's a massive game.
"The atmosphere will be totally different from what they experienced last week and I'm sure the Welsh fans will be climbing through the roof."
Jenkins confirmed that injured scrum-half Gareth Cooper will not be fit, and explained the Wales players will not be pushed hard on the training pitch before the weekend.
"There won't be an awful lot of training done this week, and the likelihood is we're not going to train until Thursday, purely on the fact that we played on Sunday and it was a tough old match for us. These six-day turnarounds are tough and it takes a couple of days for the boys to recover.
"Hopefully we'll have everybody fit by Saturday. We'll give these boys as long as possible to be right. Last week was a normal week but the week before we pretty much pushed them to the limit.
"There were a lot of tough, physical sessions. The mental and physical side was quite tough for them but they came through it. And Gats (head coach Warren Gatland) has said that a year ago we wouldn't have come through that.
"Training is harder than games in many ways. It's great because it has put us in good stead for these games. We were expecting a tough, physical game and we certainly got that. It (Murrayfield) is a tough place to go. We worked extremely hard for that win, not just in the game but the two week prior to it."
Jenkins insisted that past form will be irrelevant on Saturday. "Sometimes form goes out of the window. Two years ago we were struggling and we managed to turn England over in the last game. We are confident after a great win but we are under no illusions what Saturday is all about.
"We know how hard these games are. One thing is for sure, we won't be complacent come Saturday. We are looking forward to it and setting another marker for ourselves. Maybe we are favourites and England's form might not be where they'd like to be, but they have got a lot of quality players.
"I thought Harry Ellis had a very good game on Saturday with two tries. He is very tough and abrasive. He's got a good kicking game as well. So there is a lot to work on before Saturday. Andy Goode has a very good kicking game. He has played a lot of rugby with Leicester so he is comfortable playing alongside Harry Ellis.
"He is a very good kicker in terms of attacking kicks, so he will pose a lot of different threats to us. These games are normally very tight and very tough, so I expect them to play a kicking game on Saturday in order to put us under a bit of pressure."
Jenkins is hoping Wales put their own kicking game in order after missing five kicks at goal. "We have been there. I missed seven in a Test match against Ireland in 1993. Stephen (Jones) has missed four and Leigh (Halfpenny). These things happen. Sometimes it's not your day. Dan Carter missed five against England in the autumn and missed four against Ireland. Even the best kickers in the world have bad days. You have to dog it out in a sense.
"Steve will be as disappointed as anyone. He's kicked pretty well of late. It's just one of those things and we have to move on. Goal-kicking is vitally important. We missed five and we would have expected to get two maybe three of them. We will move on and hopefully it will turn around on Saturday."