Josh Adams of Wales. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

Pruning Roses Or Crushing Thistles . . . Josh Adams Is Ready To Make His Mark At Murrayfield

The Wales player who pulled the last few petals off the withering red rose insists the flower of Scotland can be pruned in the same way at Murrayfield today.

Josh Adams – scorer of the try that clinched victory over England – believes Wales’ Grand Slam seekers are professional enough to block out any echoes from a noisy week of disharmony back home.

The unbeaten Guinness Six Nations leaders face Scotland in Edinburgh, where a fourth successive win in this season’s tournament would leave them chasing silverware against Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday week.

But while Wales look to capture European rugby’s biggest prize, off the field it is a story of domestic strife as debate rages about so-called ‘Project Reset’ and how Wales’ professional regional game will look from next season.

Talks now appear to be deadlocked, a proposed Scarlets-Ospreys merger is off the table and considerable uncertainty remains. But despite potential distractions, Adams has no doubt that Wales are concentrated totally on their Murrayfield mission.

“We know the importance of this game, and we have to back up the performance against England,” he said. “We are ready to go.

“The boys have taken it in their stride. Every time we have gone on to the training field the focus has been on the rugby. All the boys have been really professional in how they have dealt with the situation. The focus is all on Saturday.

“All the goings-on off the field might add fuel to the fire.

“Everything we have done in training has been as normal, and the focus has been there, which has been really good with the distractions elsewhere.

“Everybody is feeling confident. We are just looking forward to getting out there, and come 2.15 on Saturday, we will let it rip.”

Worcester wiAdams has been one of Wales’ success stories during a 12-Test unbeaten run that stretches back to February last year.

He scored tries in Wales’ last two Six Nations games, and is rapidly emerging as a player who could shine in the high-octane atmosphere of a World Cup later this year.

His try against England highlighted his rare talent for calmness under pressure and an ability to produce gravity-defying skills in those intense moments when tight matches are decided. It was the kind of try New Zealand or Australian wings used to score against Wales in the dying moments.

Josh Adams in action against Australia. Pic: Simon King/Replay Images.

“I am feeling good at the minute,” the 23-year-old added. “I am looking forward to taking another opportunity and putting my best foot forward again.

“Time in the jersey does help. You learn with each Test match you play. The majority of the guys involved in the autumn Tests have come through into the Six Nations. Togetherness is really good.

“All the boys get on well, and that reflects on how we play. We all work really hard for each other. If someone makes a mistake, the guy next to you is working hard to fix it.”

Although Wales have beaten Scotland 11 times from the last 12 attempts, including four out of five in Edinburgh, memories remain from Murrayfield two years ago.

On that occasion, Wales let slip a 13-9 interval advantage and conceded 20 unanswered second-half points as they crashed to an emphatic defeat.

“The boys are still hurting a little bit from that,” Adams said. “They did not perform to the best of their ability, and that was the most frustrating thing.

“If you are a per cent or two off, teams will punish you. It is a little bit of revenge for two years ago, and I am sure the boys who were there that day will want to make amends.

New Scotland skipper Stuart McInally has told Wales to get ready for a battle even though the Dark Blues’ Six Nations title dreams are already dead after defeats to Ireland and France.

The Edinburgh hooker said: “We can’t win the championship but we can win tomorrow. That’s all we’re focusing on.

“We’re at home and we don’t go down at home without a fight.

“All we’re focused on is our group and going out there and playing at home in front off a sell-out BT Murrayfield. That’s really exciting for the players.

“Not only exciting, but something we embrace as a pressure as well. There is expectation from people that come and watch us and we love that. We love that pressure and we want to make sure we do everybody proud.

“The goals we set at the start of the tournament we’ve fallen short of but we can beat Wales tomorrow and that’s what we’re excited about.”

Scotland kicked off the Championship with a straight-forward victory over Italy.

Gregor Townsend. Pic: Getty Images.

But Gregor Townsend’s team played a part in their own downfall in the losses that followed as Ireland and France were both handed wins.

And drastic improvements will be required if they are to avoid Wales stretching a run that has seen them triumph in 12 of their last 13 head-to-head matches.

“We fell way below our standards in France and that was so disappointing,” admitted McInally. “We expect so much more of ourselves.

“The great thing is we’re now back at Murrayfield in front of a sell-out crowd and we get a chance to put those wrongs right.

“That’s something we’re desperate to do as a group of players.

“There’s a great amount of belief in the squad. That’s off the back of performances we’ve done in the jersey before. We’ve fallen short of our expectations in this tournament, definitely.

“But winning breeds confidence. We won the first game but have lost the next two but confidence comes from winning and belief is something this squad has.

“We’ve been building it since Gregor took over. I don’t think there’s a lack of belief, we just need to be more accurate with the ball. We hope to do that tomorrow.”

McInally will lead out Scotland after Townsend decided to bench regular skipper Greig Laidlaw and hand Ali Price his chance to impress at scrum-half ahead of this year’s World Cup.

Townsend has already insisted Laidlaw still has a major role to play, while former captain John Barclay will rejoin the leadership group as he makes his return from a long-term Achilles lay-off.

But McInally has no designs on still being in possession of the armband by the time Japan 2019 gets under way in September.

“No, not at all,” he insisted. “I got asked to be captain on Monday and I’m captain for this game. That’s all I’m thinking about.

“There are loads of great leaders in this team. Grieg is an exceptional leader and so is John.

“They are up there with some of the best leaders I’ve been involved with.

“Greig has been excellent. He’s embraced his role from the bench this week and he’s respected that’s what the coaches want. He’s helped me and we’ve had good chats.

“It’s a different role but from a personal point of view I couldn’t have asked any more of him.”


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