Ken Owens: Scarlets hooker says Wales will relish training with England

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales
Ken Owens and Lions
Ken Owens made two Test appearances in the British and Irish Lions' 1-1 drawn series in New Zealand
Wales Autumn internationals
Dates: 11 Nov-2 Dec Venue: Principality Stadium
Opponents: Australia, Georgia, New Zealand, South Africa
Coverage: Live on BBC One or BBC Two Wales & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Hooker Ken Owens says Wales' forwards will relish training with their English counterparts in a session which will take them "out of their comfort zone".

The two sets of forwards will train behind closed doors in Bristol on Monday in preparation for their respective autumn internationals.

Owens played with several of the England forwards on the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand but expects a full-blooded affair.

"We're looking forward to it," he said.

"It's going to take us out of our comfort zone. When you scrummage in training against the same boys week in week out, you tend to get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses pretty quick and it can give you a false sense of security at times.

"We'll know what's coming with the England pack but it will be much more like a game environment and hopefully that will aid us in being able to start on the front foot against Australia. It's great.

"It's professional rugby. Lions tours happen, some boys play in England.

"Off the field we've got a lot of friends but, on it, it's your day job and you've got to get the job done, do what you need to do to get the result needed."

Wales 2017 autumn Tests: TV coverage
Sat, 11 Nov (17:15 GMT)Wales v AustraliaBBC Two Wales
Sat, 18 Nov (14:30 GMT)Wales v GeorgiaBBC One Wales
Sat, 25 Nov (17:15 GMT)Wales v New ZealandBBC Two Wales
Sat, 2 Dec (14:30 GMT)Wales v South AfricaBBC One Wales

The idea for the one-off session came after the summer's Lions tour, where England forwards coach Steve Borthwick was among the Lions and Wales head coach Warren Gatland's assistants for the drawn series.

Gatland has named a young and relatively experimental squad for Wales' four autumn Tests, with an emphasis on increasing their playmaking options in midfield.

One source of inspiration could be the Scarlets, the regional side captained by Owens and who won last season's Pro12 title while playing a thrilling style of rugby.

Centre Scott Williams' call-up took the number of Scarlets in Wales' 36-man squad to 14, and Owens hopes that large contingent will help Wales' efforts to evolve their attacking methods.

"It's been a philosophy for us at the Scarlets for two or three years and all the Scarlets boys are comfortable with ball in hand and playing that game," said Owens.

"We read each other very well because we've done it for so long but to be fair all the [Wales] boys are buying into it and you're seeing some great skills and an expansive game.

"The big challenge now is transferring that from the training field to the match environment."

If Wales do opt for a second playmaker at inside centre against Australia, one of the candidates to wear the 12 jersey would be Owen Williams.

The 25-year-old started his career as a fly-half for the Scarlets but, having played at 12 for Leicester and his current club Gloucester, Williams could be the creative centre Gatland is searching for.

"Ows has been outstanding," Owens said about his former regional team-mate.

"He was great for us in his final season for us, he took us to the play-offs in that year and he's thrived at Leicester and Gloucester.

"He's a real playmaker, a good passer of the ball with a good kicking game. It's something that worked in the summer with the Lions, two 10s, two first receivers playing at 10 and 12.

"If the coaching staff decide to go with that, I'm sure Owen would like to put his hand up for both, 10 or 12. It's something he's done previously but there's a lot of competition."