x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

When going got tough, the tough got going

A lot of the newspapers and other people had written off England before Saturday's game, but the Welsh players knew just how tough it was going to be out there.

A lot of the newspapers and other people had written off England before Saturday's game, but the Welsh players knew just how tough it was going to be out there. England certainly delivered on that count. They were a very, very strong opposition, just what we had expected and had prepared for. If we are honest, they worked us out. They targeted our key ball-carriers, like Jamie Roberts and Andy Powell, and did a good job of stopping their progress at the start.

Joe Worsley, who was named the man of the match, and rightly so, was outstanding and led their defensive line well. They performed very well as a defensive unit and worked for each other. We struggled to respond and did not get as much go-forward as we have been used to in the recent past. Our backs are about as exciting as any in the game, so with them not being quite as potent as they usually are, it was good that the forwards did our bit. There were actually not that many scrums in the game. I got one penalty out of Phil Vickery, which is usually a sign that you are getting ahead, but it was more of an open game so it was a case of being physical at the breakdown.

It is difficult to explain how a prop can get on top of his opposite number at scrum-time. We are all about the same size as each other now at Test level so it is not like anyone dominates anyone else too much in terms of size. It is all down to how much help you get from your friends, and how hard your other seven players are working. There is no way you can do it on your own. It needs eight people working hard and everyone on our side has bought into that. This is the reason we have had a lot of success in that area lately.

James Haskell, England's flanker, said last week that he thought our coach, Warren Gatland, was the best man-manager he has encountered in the game. He was spot on. Warren knows just how to deal with different types of personalities. He has mastered how to deal with the variety of people he has under his charge. He gets on well with all the players but he is tough on them when he needs to be as well. He has got it sussed at the moment.

Warren and Shaun Edwards, the other coach, do not actually have that much to say on game-day. They say their bit before we leave the hotel in a team meeting. Once we get to the game we are left to prepare ourselves individually, then Ryan Jones, the captain, speaks to us briefly before we go out. Ryan is an intelligent enough bloke, and what he says is a little bit different to the norm. But, in truth, we have all been around for a while and we do not really need anyone to tell us how to get up for a Test match in the Six Nations against England.

sports@thenational.ae