Ken Owens: The Lion and Grand Slam winner who's never started a World Cup game

Ken Owens in training with Wales
Ken Owens made his Wales debut against Namibia at the 2011 World Cup, where he was third choice behind Huw Bennett and Lloyd Burns

He's a British and Irish Lion, a Grand Slam winner and Wales' most-capped hooker, but Ken Owens hopes to put one personal thing right in Japan in the autumn and start a World Cup game at the third attempt.

The 32-year-old has made six tournament appearances, but each time he came off the bench with one cap at the 2011 tournament and five more in 2015..

He was third choice for the role at the 2011 event in New Zealand and Scott Baldwin was first-choice four years later when England were hosts.

Since then Owens has established himself as Warren Gatland's go-to hooker in the big games.

"Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to go to this World Cup and get a start," said the Scarlets star.

"Going into 2011 I'd come off a serious injury and because a couple of other boys had injuries too I made the squad - and I was chuffed to get my first cap at that World Cup.

"In 2015 it was pretty much the same. I'd had about eight or nine months out with my neck again.

"Scott had a great tournament and my role was to bring an impact off the bench, which I enjoyed.

"You make your own luck and player's roles change in different squads.

"Hopefully I can stay fit and prove myself to the squad. It would be huge to make a third World Cup."

Owens and the rest of the Wales squad are in Switzerland experiencing a brutal two-week training camp at altitude.

"Its not pleasant, but we know why we're doing it and what the purpose of it is, especially if you've been through it before," he said.

"You can see the results it gives you and the places you can get to in those big matches."

Wales are ranked second behind holders New Zealand as the tournament looms, courtesy of a record 14-match winning run that included the 2019 Grand Slam.

The winning streak included a rare win against Australia in November, ending a 13-match losing run against them.

Wales also face Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay as they bid to reach the knock-out stages in Japan.

"To get that result against Australia was a monkey off the back and does give us confidence," said Owens.

"You saw when we beat South Africa and got that one win, we've had pretty good results against them since then.

"But the challenge will be there in every game. Fiji have won in France and, you see this at every World Cup, that when the South Sea Island sides get an extended period of time together they're very dangerous.

"You can't write off Georgia either. They've got some strength and weapons, and Uruguay are not just going to turn up and roll over to give us the points.

"We can't just say 'all we need to do is beat Australia' because we might end up losing the other games."

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