Edwards coy over Wales future

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Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Shaun Edwards says he is “taking each day as it comes” with regard to his post-World Cup future as an assistant Wales coach.

Edwards admitted to feeling “emotional” after Wales’ stirring 23-16 RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland that ensured next Saturday’s tournament finale will be a three-way title race, with England currently topping the group.

The 48-year-old defence specialist, who has been an integral figure among Warren Gatland’s Wales coaching team since the New Zealander took charge seven years ago, is out of contract in 2016.

And while it appears inconceivable that he will not be offered a new deal by the Welsh Rugby Union – Edwards has been part of three Six Nations title-winning campaigns, including two Grand Slams, and helped mastermind a World Cup semi-final appearance in 2011 – he is keeping an open mind.

“It was a very emotional game for everybody, really,” he said.

“I think only a Six Nations game can bring the emotion out like that, particularly for myself.

“Potentially, it could be one of my last Six Nations games with Wales, with our contracts all being up after the World Cup.

“If it ends up being that way, it’s a great way to sign off.”

Asked how keen he is to remain as Wales’ defence specialist, Edwards added: “I’m just taking each day as it comes.”

And asked if Wales’ heroic defensive display had given him one of his proudest days as a defence coach, he said: “Yes, because it was emotional as well.

“It could be my last one, and to defend in your own 22 for nine and a half minutes and concede just one try from a maul, is great credit to the lads and the fitness staff, too.”

Wales made 250 tackles in thwarting Ireland’s Grand Slam bid, a bone-crunching effort that was highlighted by them repelling a prolonged spell of Irish pressure during the third quarter that mirrored everything about Edwards’ world-renowned defensive philosophy.

“I just thought it was an incredible Test match,” Edwards added.

“Ireland are a team that never ever give in, they are coming back at you all the time. It was everything that is good about the Six Nations.

“We kept getting off the floor quickly, which is a massive part of your defence. If you are on the floor, you are out of the game in the game of rugby union.

“We got off the floor and got into position very quickly – there are mental and physical aspects to that – and our tackling, in particular our leg-chops, was of the highest order.

“I did say to the players during the week that potentially we would have to make 150-200 tackles because of the way Ireland attack.”

Edwards paid tribute to Wales lock Luke Charteris, whose personal tackle-count of 31 set a new individual Six Nations record for one game.

“Let’s be honest, he has not only done that (made tackles), he has defended four or five mauls and he’s been in 10-15 scrums. It just shows what an incredibly fit player he is,” Edwards said.

“I think since he has come back into the team, he has been absolutely outstanding. He has certainly made a difference. His mobility is of the highest order.

“We hardly ever kick the ball off the pitch, we keep the ball on the park all the time, so it’s not easy to defend for those long periods.

“We are a better team than we were before the (2011) World Cup. I am not going to say we are a better team than we were at the World Cup, but we are in better shape than what we were in 2011 going into the World Cup.

“I just think we have got a bit more understanding, the players have played together longer and some of them are a bit more mature.”

Published: Sunday 15th March 2015 by The News Editor

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