Welsh rugby captain and now powerbroker Ken Owens is ready to put their contractual chaos behind them and restore some pride as the injured England roll into Cardiff this weekend
- Welsh players reached a compromise with WRU bosses after threatening a strike
- The Six Nations clash between Wales and England was critically endangered
- Wales captain Ken Owens says now is the time to focus on the task
After a remarkable week in which he was both Wales captain and Wales rugby powerbroker, it was no surprise that Ken Owens looked tired on the eve of the England clash.
“Don’t worry about me,” Owens said in a hoarse voice. ‘I’m fine.’
The 36-year-old admitted the past seven days have been the most remarkable period of his long career after he and his Welsh players threatened to go on strike for the England game before a series of contractual disputes with their Welsh rugby bosses were agreed .
“Hopefully we’ll never be in this situation again,” Owens said. “The biggest positive we can take from all of this is how united the players have been and how strongly we have supported each other.
“A lot of us senior players in Welsh rugby have been through this before.
Ken Owens admitted the days leading up to Saturday’s England game were the most remarkable of his long career
“It certainly stimulated us and that shows in the unity of the actions taken.”
After a tumultuous period of what must be one of the greatest crises ever seen in Welsh rugby, Owens and his team must now somehow turn their attention to the action on the pitch.
Warren Gatland’s side took a beating from Ireland and Scotland in the first two rounds of the Six Nations and then the threat of a strike completely overshadowed the run-up to the England game. “We’re probably disappointed that it’s come to this, but as players we had to do it because there’s so much uncertainty involved,” Owens said.
“But it was put to bed on Wednesday and what’s done is done. Now we have to concentrate on the rugby.’
Wales players are in talks with the country’s governing body, the WRU, led by general manager Nigel Walker
The players find themselves in a cacophony of noise in Cardiff on Saturday night after a tumultuous week
Wales flanker Justin Tipuric sat out Friday’s captain’s run session to manage his training load, but will still start against England.
“We need a win to put the pride back in the shirt after two defeats,” said Owens, who revealed he agreed with his Gatland head coach that previous successes in Wales had covered up the cracks of the country’s previous rugby troubles . “It tries to end this saga on a positive note.
“We’ve had a lot of crisis in Welsh rugby at various points over the last 10 or 12 years and it’s almost been the national side that has stepped up to cover them.
“If the national team hadn’t won, this probably would have come to a head much sooner.”