Ken Owens of Wales. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

Ken Owens Wants Wales To Walk The Walk As No.1 – Not Just Talk It

Ken Owens insists he will only take extended interest in Wales’ No.1 ranking if it’s still there after the World Cup.

The Wales hooker is clear his country’s new found status as the most in-form rugby team on the planet is no more than an indicator of what might be possible in Japan next month.

Wales reached the top of the pile – a status officially confirmed by World Rugby on Monday – by beating England last Saturday in a controlled 13-6 victory at the Principality Stadium.

“It’s just a table and something to talk about. I would prefer to be there at the start of November,” said Owens.

“We are pretty happy, but we know we have to improve again.

“Everything we spoke about regarding having a better start, having a lot more line-speed defensively and being more accurate in attack we did against a great England side.”

An Owens overthrow at a line-out the week before against England had gifted Luke Cowan-Dickie a vital try, but the Welsh hooker was inch-perfect with his throwing-in six days on as he showed no signs of any mental scarring. Wales won all 15 line-outs they had.

“You have to back yourself. We reviewed it and the process was not quite right at that line-out and we spoke about sticking to what we do,” added Owens.

“The scrum was a lot better too and we can improve again. Like everything, it is small steps forward and we need to keep going in the right direction because we are not the finished article yet.”

Wales headed to Turkey for a nine day training camp after knocking the All Blacks off the top of the world rankings for the first time since 2009. Warren Gatland’s side overtook them to reach No 1 for the first time in their history.

Dan Biggar’s influence at outside-half – and the absence of the injured Gareth Anscombe – means the Ospreys star is now likely to be rested for the two remaining warm-up matches against Ireland.

Ken Owens of Wales throws in to the line-out. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

But while Biggar has re-established himself as first choice No.10, the Australian he faced at the 2015 tournament – Bernard Foley – appears to have dropped behind Christian Lealiifano as the Wallabies’ playmaker.

Australia coach Michael Cheika says Lealiifano has his nose in front for the No.10 shirt, but has praised the demoted Bernard Foley.

Foley had been virtually unchallenged over the past three years as he locked down the position with a series of excellent displays at the 2015 World Cup.

He started the Wallabies’ first Test of this season but, for the past three Tests, hasn’t even made the match-day 23, with Lealiifano playing at No.10 and Matt Toomua coming off the bench.

In the wake of the Walabies’ heavy defeat to New Zealand at the weekend, Cheika said: “It’s been competitive, but Christian has got his nose in front; he’s played the majority of games so far.

“But Foley is there and contesting at training and contributing in a big way – it’s a fine margin.

Cheika commended 69-Test veteran Foley for how he had responded to his demotion.

“It’s a very difficult thing for a guy like him who has probably been in that position relatively uncontested for a while, because he has been playing well.

“Now he’s got that competition, he has reacted well in both sides, from a team perspective and also from his individual routine in preparing to try and get the spot back.”


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