Shaun Edwards backs Wales coach Robert Howley

Rob Howley
Rob Howley is in his second spell as Wales caretaker coach
Under Armour Series: Wales v South Africa
Venue: Principality Stadium Date: Saturday, 26 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Defence coach Shaun Edwards has backed heavily criticised Wales coach Robert Howley, saying he is "very, very good" in the role.

Howley is in charge for 2016-17 as regular Wales boss Warren Gatland prepares to take the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

This autumn, Wales have lost heavily to Australia and struggled to impress in narrow wins over Argentina and Japan.

"He's excellent," said Edwards, singling out his "attention to detail".

The former Wigan and Great Britain rugby league player added: "The way he addresses the players - he's a very good head coach."

He said he was unaware of the criticism levelled at Howley, who is in his second stint deputising for Gatland, but pointed to the fact that during Howley's first spell in charge, Wales won the 2013 Six Nations.

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"I don't know what people have been saying about him to be honest. I just do my job," said Edwards.

"Every person is entitled to their opinion, but when you are a national coach it's important that you block everything out of your mind. You just do your job.

"Rob Howley has only been in one Six Nations and he won it.

"He is a very good head coach, believe me."

Bradley Davies
Bradley Davies played against Australia on 5 November but missed the wins over Argentina and Japan

Jenkins a doubt to face Springboks

Wales could be without record-cap holder Gethin Jenkins, but Taulupe Faletau could return when they host the Springboks on Saturday.

Edwards said 128-times-capped prop Jenkins has a shoulder problem, while number eight Faletau returned from the knee injury that has ruled him out of the autumn games to date in Bath's win over Bristol on Friday.

However, lock Bradley Davies has been released back to Ospreys as he recovers from injury.

"We are looking at a pretty healthy squad," said Edwards.

"Obviously we are hoping that Gethin's shoulder recovers. He's one of the greatest players Wales has ever had.

"We are hoping he will come through and put his hand up to be available. We will be picking from strength this week."

How can Wales improve?

Edwards said Wales responded to their 32-8 defeat by Australia with an "exceptional" display in beating the Pumas.

But he accepts the performance in beating Japan was not good enough and that being on the wrong end of interceptions in each of their three autumn matches is a concern.

"We just made the wrong decisions at the wrong time. We have to be more accurate.

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"The attack coaches are working damned hard to make sure we are more accurate in those areas and if we do that it will be a start."

Wales have remained sixth in the latest World Rugby rankings while South Africa, after their shock defeat by Italy, dropped to fifth.

Edwards described Saturday's encounter as "must-win" for Wales and a "cup final".

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