Wales coach wary of a ‘hurting’ England team after press backlash

Jared Wright
Wales: England's Dave Ribbans catches a high ball during the Summer Nations Series match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Saturday August 5, 2023.

Dave Ribbans catches a high ball against Wales.

Wales attack coach Alex King has warned his team that a “hurting” England will be out for revenge as the two sides face off in a rematch at Twickenham on Saturday.

Steve Borthwick’s England side were underwhelming in the fixture in Cardiff and were the subject of strong media criticism for that poor display.

“They’ve not been too kind to them”

King is expecting a backlash this weekend after last week’s poor performance while players selected to represent England at the World Cup also look to stamp their mark.

“We know they’ll be hurting after the weekend,” he said.

“I’ve read a bit of the English press, and they’ve not been too kind to them.

“We know they’ve got players to come back. Everyone is at slightly different points of their development.

“This is all preparation for something that is going to kick off in a month’s time in France.

“They’ve got some players to come back in, and we’ll concentrate on ourselves and try and improve on some areas.”

Improvements

Jac Morgan inspired Wales to victory with a man-of-the-match display in his first Test leading his country.

The performance was a throwback to the Wales teams of old under Warren Gatland as they withstood concerted England pressure in the first half before tries from Gareth Davies and George North saw them to victory.

King said the team are starting to get their identity back as they prepare for the World Cup, and after a tough few months for Wales, he was happy to see some positives.

“Even through the Six Nations (when Wales won only once), towards the end, we were starting to get an identity of what we were trying to do,” he added.

“It was a tough time for Welsh rugby, and there was a lot going on off the field, but the boys stuck together.

“This group has been working for 11 weeks, and it was great to see some of the stuff we’ve been working on come through.

“It was certainly a good start on both sides of the ball. We were resilient and stayed in the fight first half when we were under the cosh.

“Then when we got the chance second half, we were pretty accurate and probably left two or three out there as well.”

Exciting back three

King was particularly pleased with the performances of the back three, with youngsters Louis Rees-Zammit and Rio Dyer starring on the wing while Leigh Halfpenny celebrated his 100th Test cap for Wales in style.

Rees-Zammit showed his game-breaking ability with a spectacular effort that almost resulted in a try, and King sang his back three’s praises following the performance.

“When Rio (Dyer), Louis and ‘Pens’ (Leigh Halfpenny) get the ball, there’s an excitement, and that’s how we want to play, with a tactical brain as well,” he said.

“There’s a balance there underpinned by good defence and a good set-piece, and if we want to be successful over the next two months, all parts of our game must be functioning.

“There were moments in that second half that were testament to Welsh rugby which, to me, is about ball movement, speedy backs and getting the crowd excited.

“I’ve seen the quality and level of work we’ve done over the last 11 weeks. I was pleased with the attitude and mindset to really go and play.”

The win over England has seemingly won over the supporters, with the open training session on Monday seeing nearly 10,000 attendees.

READ MORE: Sir Clive Woodward: Top Rugby World Cup teams ‘won’t be scared’ of England