McBryde - Owens first choice

Coach views Owens as first-choice hooker against Australia

Last Updated: 02/06/12 11:52am

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Ken Owens: Shown up well throughout the season

Ken Owens: Shown up well throughout the season

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Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde says it is a 'fair assumption' that Ken Owens will be the first-choice hooker for the three-Test series against Australia.

Owens was one of 17 players sent in an advance party that arrived in Australia in the early hours of Saturday morning to get ready for the battle between the reigning southern and northern hemisphere champions, which kicks off in Brisbane next Saturday.

The 25-year-old, who understudies club captain Matthew Rees at the Scarlets, started off last season as Wales' fifth choice at hooker.

But injuries to then-Wales captain Rees and Ospreys rival Richard Hibbard opened the door for him to go to the World Cup in New Zealand.

"Ken has shown up well throughout the season and was perhaps unlucky not to start more games during the Six Nations. We're hoping for that form to continue."
Robin McBryde Quotes of the week

He won his first cap as a replacement against Namibia and his rise has continued since then.

He went to Australia with an unblemished record of five wins in five games for Wales and could well start against the Tri-Nations champions next week.

"It would be a fair assumption to say Ken Owens is our first-choice hooker," said McBryde, himself a former Wales and Lions hooker.

Influence selection

"There isn't a pecking order as such - a lot of things have had an influence on selection in regards to travel and availability.

"But Ken has shown up well throughout the season and was perhaps unlucky not to start more games during the Six Nations. We're hoping for that form to continue.

"It's a very competitive area and things change very quickly in rugby. Competitiveness brings out the edge in people and there's no resting place for anybody in this squad.

"We have three hookers going on the tour and it's going to be hugely competitive. We want to have the same thing in each and every position."

Rees, the British and Irish Lions hooker in South Africa in 2009, was named captain for Wales' match against the Barbarians at the Millennium Stadium but knows he will be in for a battle to retain the number two jersey against the Wallabies next weekend.

As well as the two Scarlets team-mates, McBryde also has the powerful Ospreys RaboDirect PRO12 final-winning hooker Hibbard to call on down under when Wales go in search of their first win over a Tri-Nations side away from home since 1987.

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