Wales no longer under World Cup radar, says Ken Owens
Watch Wales vs England on Sky Sports on August 11
Last Updated: 06/07/19 4:02pm
Ken Owens says Wales are looking forward to going into the World Cup later this year with expectation rather than being "under the radar" as they have in previous tournaments.
The hooker, who was speaking at the launch of Wales' World Cup jersey, says they will have to be the best team in the world to lift the trophy in Japan, and that the ambitions set within the camp have not been altered by their current run of 14 consecutive victories which has taken them to No 2 in the world rankings.
"The expectation never changes within our squad and within our own camp," Owens said. "We know where we're at, we know the work that we've still got to do.
"We're probably not going to go under the radar like we have done in previous tournaments and that's because of our results and our form.
"So that's an expectation on us and one we're looking forward to. But we know there's a long way ahead, we've got to improve and get better and put the graft in to deserve that tag as the second best team in the world - but we're going to have to become the best team in the world to win the World Cup.
"There's a lot of teams going to be chasing us down; there's a lot of quality sides in the world at the moment and we're under no illusions.
"Perhaps people are putting the favourites' tags on us along with New Zealand and a couple of other countries, but you've got to prove that and earn that and keep yourselves up there."
George North says the squad welcomes the extra expectation on the class of 2019.
"If you look at it as history goes, we've always gone in quite underdogs," he said. "I guess it's quite a new prospect for a lot of the boys.
"Sometimes, rather than chasing, to be chased is something different. It keeps an extra bit of pressure on you but a change of dimension as well.
"It's good, it's exciting to be in that position and we're excited to get involved now."
Wales play England in two World Cup warm-ups, the first of which is live on Sky Sports on August 11, and Owens believes England will be aiming to avenge their Six Nations loss in Cardiff earlier this year.
"We've had some great battles against them over the last couple of years. I'm sure they'll be wanting to come down and right a couple of wrongs from their performance in the Six Nations.
"We were pretty happy with the way we went that day and I'm sure they will be looking to get a couple of wins to build their confidence going into the World Cup."