Owens ready for England
Wales hooker Ken Owens knows there will be no time to ease himself into the action when he makes his full Test debut against England.
Last Updated: 23/02/12 3:34pm
Wales hooker Ken Owens knows there will be no time to ease himself into the action when he makes his full Test match debut against England on Saturday.
Owens has raced up the Wales pecking order, given that probably only six months ago he might have been regarded as fifth-choice in the middle of the front row.
But after three appearances off the replacements' bench, and with Matthew Rees, Huw Bennett and Lloyd Burns all injured, Owens now steps up as starting hooker for the RBS Six Nations showdown at Twickenham.
"I have got to go out there on Saturday and put a performance in. You never count your chickens, you never expect anything," Owens said.
"You have got to keep your head down, keep working hard and make sure that when the call comes you are ready for it.
"Growing up, England was always the game you made sure you watched. Twickenham is a great venue, and to play against England is huge.
"Hopefully, the nerves won't be too bad. It is more excitement, really.
"Once you nail that first (lineout) throw, it is not too bad after that. Against Scotland, I came on and it was straight into a lineout. Luckily, we won it, and you build confidence from that."
Wales' lost four lineouts on their own throw against Ireland in Dublin three weeks ago but were much smoother in that department against Scotland last time out.
"I don't think we have got too much of a crisis there," Owens added of the lineout.
"I think the most frustrating thing about our lineout at the moment is that when we are accurate we are pretty good. It's not teams figuring out what we are doing, it is our own errors creeping in.
"Throwing into the lineout has got to be one of your strengths as a hooker. It is a timing thing and knowing what your jumpers are going to be doing.
"As a unit, the (Wales) pack has been pretty stable for the past couple of years. We've just got to keep working together and try to nullify England's threat and turn it into a positive for us."
Owens is quick to acknowledge the influence of Scarlets colleague Rees, who will be forced into a watching brief this weekend, on his own career.
"I have spent all my career with Matthew at the Scarlets," he said.
"I have learnt a lot off him over the years - it has improved my game. He has been a huge influence.
"He sets the standards, being a British Lion and a world-class hooker. It is just trying to chase him all the time that has made me a better player."