Defence is only thing on Edwards's agenda
Rugby:Shaun Edwards has insisted that any personal disappointment at missing out on this year’s British and Irish Lions tour will be shelved in the pursuit of another Six Nations title.
Wales defence coach Edwards was a surprise omission from the Lions coaching staff for this summer’s three-Test Australia tour.
Lions boss Warren Gatland, Edwards’s long-time coaching mentor at club and international level, has described last month’s decision not to take his ex-Wasps and current Wales colleague Down Under as “agonising” and “difficult”.
While Gatland will be joined in Australia by Wales’ Six Nations interim head coach Rob Howley, plus England assistants Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree, Edwards’s summer diary entry is a short Wales tour of Japan.
“Obviously, everyone wants to go on a Lions tour, as a player and as a coach,” Edwards said today. “But the decision has been made. ‘Gats’ has made his decision, and obviously I am abiding by it.
“I am not going to forget how much Warren Gatland has done for me over the last 10 years. Most of the things I have achieved in coaching have been through him and his help.
“He has been a great mentor for me, and hopefully he will continue to be that in the future. He has made a decision which went against me, but there is no way my loyalty will be questioned.
“I couldn’t be more determined. I had a break over the Christmas period, I went on holiday, and I am very much focused on trying to defend our (Six Nations) championship.”
Wales will launch their Six Nations title defence against Ireland in Cardiff next Saturday.
Not only have they been hit by injuries - notably in the secondrow where Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies are all currently unavailable - but Wales are also on a run of seven successive defeats.
They have not beaten another Test-playing country since defeating France to clinch the Six Nations title and a third Grand Slam in eight years at the Millennium Stadium last March.
The recent autumn series produced losses to Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia, and Edwards has no doubt about the main lesson that must be learnt.
“In the autumn, it took us two-and-a-half games to get going, to get up to the speed of international rugby, in all aspects of the game - the set-piece, the scrum, the lineout, the defence, the reaction to turnovers - whatever it was, we were a yard off the pace,” he added.