Edwards: Others will chop in place of star Lydiate
DEFENCE coach Shaun Edwards has stressed it won't be all about who can replace Dan Lydiate’s notorious chop tackling for Wales when they kick-off the Six Nations against Ireland.
The Newport Gwent Dragons blindside flanker, player of the tournament in 2012, is inching closer towards a comeback after breaking his ankle last September.
Lydiate is on course to make a return for his region on February 8, the eve of the France game, but in the mean time they need to chose a deputy.
Skipper Sam Warburton could shift to the blindside with Justin Tipuric coming in at openside and Edwards believe the captain has the ability to get chopping.
“Whenever Lyds makes a tackle there are about four players behind him trying to get on top of the ball,” said the former Great Britain rugby league captain.
“Clearly he is very good at the chop tackle but Warby is a very good low tackler and if selected a six will have to do a bit more of the primary tackling to allow the second man to come in over the ball.”
But it isn’t all about getting low and Edwards believes the power of Wales new boy Olly Kohn, who was called up last Friday, could be a big factor in winning the battle on the gain line over the coming weeks.
The 31-year-old Harlquins lock is an imposing lump, 6ft 7ins tall and weighing in at 21st 10lb, providing something that Wales miss in the absence of the injured Alun Wyn Jones and Luke Charteris.
That could mean Bristol-born Kohn, whose grandfather was Welsh, could be flung straight into the fray against the Irish.
“Olly brings a physical presence, scrummaging power and very good tackling technique,” said Edwards.
“That physical presence wins you collision and I know we have a reputation for tackling low and technique is a huge part of that, but you still have to win collisions.
“Sometimes you have got to tackle high and it's a big advantage to have that extra poundage and physicality.
“He’s only got five days with the rest of the team but a lot is down to instinct when it comes to the dark arts of the tight five and he plays for an excellent team in Harlequins.”
Edwards knows that Wales cannot afford a slow start to their campaign following an autumn where they were out of the blocks sluggishly.
The tone for the whitewash was set by a lethergic display against Argentina which was followed by defeats to Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
Edwards said: “In the autumn it took us two and half games to get up to the speed of international rugby in all aspects of the game, the scrum, the lineout, defence, reaction to turn overs. We were a yard off the pace.
“Our attack against the All Blacks in the second half was outstanding and against Australia we condeded 14 points, the lowest against them.
“It took us two and a half games to get to that level and we cannot afford that this time, we have to hit the ground running.”
Wales continue to monitor injuries to lock/flanker Ryan Jones and lock Ian Evans, who both took part in a vigorous fitness session with the rest of the squad yesterday.