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Kohn will help beef up Wales - Edwards

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 29, 2013

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WALES are hopeful over the fitness of Ospreys forwards Ian Evans and Ryan ahead of Saturday's Six Nations opener against Ireland.

The injured pair trained yesterday and Harlequins' Olly Kohn joined up with the squad for the first time as Wales conducted a second-row headcount at their base in the Vale of Glamorgan.

They are without Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies and Luke Charteris, and Evans hasn't played since hurting a knee in November, while Ryan Jones dislocated a thumb against Leicester earlier this month.

But the picture appears to be improving, with Bristolian Kohn offering an extra option after his call-up on the strength of a Wales-born grandfather.

At 6ft 7in and pushing 21st, he provides a significant physical presence.

Linking up with the squad just five days before the start of the championship means there are probably others in front of him, but Wales will see how he fares in training.

"Olly plays for the team who are number one seeds in the Heineken Cup so he operates at quite a high level," said Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards.

"He is a very powerful, tight-head scrummaging second row and there are not many of those about.

"We felt we needed beefing up. Hopefully over the next few weeks he will get his chance.

"He's got only five days with the rest of the team but in the dark arts of the tight five a lot of it is on instinct and he plays for an excellent team in Harlequins.

"We had a really good blow-out yesterday morning. We need to see how the players react so we can have a better idea if they are going to be up for selection.

"Ryan Jones and Ian Evans trained and finished with a vigorous fitness session."

Meanwhile, Ireland full-back Rob Kearney has admitted Saturday's showdown with Wales will be pivotal to both country's hopes of Six Nations glory this season.

Ireland were beaten by Wales in Dublin on the opening weekend of the 2012 campaign, a result which catapulted Warren Gatland's men towards a third Grand Slam in eight seasons.

"This is huge for us," said the Leinster star, now fully recovered from a back problem. "We know we've lost our last three against them, including some big games.

"Losing the first game takes a lot of kick out of you and suddenly you come under more pressure."

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