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After this defeat - no-one is safe

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

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SHAUN Edwards has admitted even experienced players will be fretting over their Wales places after the jolting Six Nations defeat by Ireland.

The 30-22 home setback for Rob Howley's team saw a number of senior players perform well below their usual standards, especially in the opening 45 minutes, when the visitors raced into a 30-3 lead.

Howley now faces the biggest selection of his coaching life, as he decides whether to stick or twist in key positions.

Skipper Sam Warburton, prop Gethin Jenkins and centre Jonathan Davies are among those who will be anxiously awaiting the team announcement, with Justin Tipuric, Paul James and James Hook applying pressure.

The return to fitness of Richard Hibbard and Ryan Jones will guarantee, too, that the hooker and blindside flanker spots are debated at length. Edwards hinted that Wales were not in the business of wielding the axe on the basis of one poor display. But he insisted that didn't mean anyone could take selection for granted.

"Everyone will be nervous ahead of the team announcement," he said, "and that is the way it should be in international rugby.

"Even the experienced players should know they are two bad games away from being in jeopardy.

"It should be like that with any international team around the world, even the All Blacks."

The burning question is how Wales will resolve their openside flanker conundrum.

Tipuric impressed as a replacement on Saturday, though Howley's team were on the front foot when he was on, making the Trebanos man's life easier.

They could opt to switch Warburton to blindside, drop the captain altogether and bring in a specialist blindside flanker, or leave Tipuric on the bench and stick with the skipper at breakaway.

Asked about Warburton and Tipuric starting, Edwards said: "We have not picked the team yet but if we did pick it that way we would be happy.

"When you select a side in rugby there are always pros and cons with every decision.

"If you go for a mobile team you want to keep the ball in play for as long as possible and keep the game as unstructured as you can. If you have big, heavy tight five with a physical six you want more of set-piece orientated team.

"Anybody who has watched Wales over the last five years will know they want the ball in play and a loose entertaining match because that suits our game."

Eli Walker is set to miss the trip to Paris after tweaking his troublesome hamstring.


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