Howley backing Wales to bounce back

Date published: February 11 2017

Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley feels his side are moving in the right direction despite suffering a 21-16 loss to England in Cardiff on Saturday.

Despite holding the upperhand for most of the match, Wales eventually succumbed to a 75th minute Elliot Daly try.

But despite being outscored by two tries to one, Howley is happy with his side’s attacking display and believes they will return to the victory trail soon.

“I thought we were ok with the ball in hand, he said.

“I though we asked questions, either side of the ruck, so we’ll continue to do that. I think we’ve got some world class backs and hopefully we’ll keep working hard on our game and improving and that’s the challenge for the players, and I think the qualities of a team are when you bounce back.

“Some of these players have bounced back before and I have no doubt that we’ll have a reaction because there’s a lot of character in that dressing room.

“It wasn’t a pleasant one to be in after the game but you have to bottle that feeling as a player and coach and try rectify that last 10 minutes where we went wrong. But that experience, hopefully you bottle it up and be ready at Murrayfield in two weeks’ time.”

Howley said he saw some encouraging signs on attack but feels England took their chances better.

“I think both sides attacked very well,” he added.

“I think we did well to get to the outside channels, I thought our execution under pressure was good at times, and I think the result of five or six line breaks.

“It’s nice to score a try off first phase, always nice, and Liam took his line pretty well to make the most of a defensive wrong decision.

“We’re pleased with a lot of our stuff, but as I’ve said before in test matches a lot of the time there’s minutes where those three elements come into the game, your composure, your discipline and executing those decisions under pressure and I think quantifiably England did it a bit better than us and hence deserved the win.”

Wales’ star winger George North failed a late fitness test after injuring his leg against Italy last weekend and was replaced by Alex Cuthbert for the England clash.

Howley feels it was the right decision not to risk North and expects him to be fit for their next match against Scotland in Cardiff on February 26.

“It was pretty evident this morning that the haematoma hadn’t settled, which is pretty important,” he explained.

“In the concept of the week and how big a game this was, you want your best players playing these games and George and Dan both wanted to be given that opportunity.

“We gave them every opportunity and this morning it was fairly obvious that we’d be putting him at risk if he started the game so hopefully we made the right decision. He’ll be fit for Murrayfield for selection.”

There were concerns over Sam Warburton, who took a heavy knock in contact, but Howley is unsure how serious the flanker’s injury is.

“I haven’t managed to speak to Sam so I can’t really give you a decisive what he’s done. Obviously he’s with the medical team and we’ll just wait and see.”