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Forshaw wants Welsh defence to deny Duhan

Mike Forshaw on duty with Wales against Ireland

Forshaw wants Welsh defence to deny Duhan

New defence coach Mike Forshaw knows Wales must be strong defensively when they take on Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. 

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The Scots picked up four tries in their 29-23 bonus-point win at Twickenham last weekend, with dangerman Duhan van der Merwe getting two of them through spectacular long-range efforts. 

Forshaw will be warning his side not to kick deep to the Scots as England did so as not to allow Stuart Hogg to launch his wings, Van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn, onto the attack. 

“It was a wonder-try from Van der Merwe, and I’ve seen him do it once or twice before playing for Worcester against Sale. I think the thing for me would be why are you giving him opportunities like that?” said Forshaw, 

“We’ve got to be a bit smarter. The England tactic of going long was probably not great but having said that, there is a bit of X-factor in that Scottish back three.  

“I don’t know if Kevin (Sinfield, England defence coach) would be happy with that try they scored because Van der Merwe beat six defenders. But he is a bloke who can hurt you and I’ve seen him create something out of nothing and leave a trail of destruction before. 

“If you are going long and strong with your kicking game against Scotland you have to be strong defensively, because players like Van der Merwe are coming back at you with some speed. The first try he scored at Twickenham was probably one of the best tries I’ve ever seen. 

“Stuart Hogg can hurt you and then you have Finn Russell, who is called the ‘Gambler’. He’ll do things off the cuff.  

“I’ve had experience of that, coaching against Racing 92 over the last few years. We have to bring them to the fight a bit more and not give them long and strong opportunities.” 

Duhan van der Merwe in action for the Lions

Former Rugby League star Forshaw was picked by Warren Gatland to take over the defensive duties from Gethin Jenkins and has had a whirlwind start since joining from Sale Sharks. He only had two weeks to get to know and work with the Welsh squad prior to the opening game of the Guinness Six Nations Championship last weekend.  

“I had two weeks to remember 60 names, which was quite a challenge. It really was a baptism by fire,” said Forshaw.  

“I was coaching against Toulouse and in Belfast and then straight to Cardiff. I’d not met anyone and then it was straight into a two-week period.  

“I had six sessions on the field to earn trust and that probably works both ways. On my first day I did a bit of an icebreaker and showed three slides. One of them was a picture of me and Shaun Edwards playing together, and I said to the lads ‘that if I have half the impact this fella did then I’ll be doing alright’. 

“I now have another week and I am a little bit more settled and really looking forward to the experience of going to Murrayfield. I won the Challenge Cup there with Bradford Bulls many years ago, which was a great occasion, and Im looking forward to going back there.

Mike Forshaw (left) with the Challenge Cup ahead of 2003 final in Cardiff

“I’m not too despondent about losing the first game, I didn’t expect fairy-tale starts anyway. That’s just because of where I’m from. 

“I’ll just graft and graft until we can really challenge in that area. We conceded nine penalties in the first 20 minutes which cost us field position against a good side.  

“There were a couple of things we could have done better in that kill-zone area defensively and we’ve had a good look at that as a team, particularly the forwards.

“The interception try was a bit of a killer. I thought in the second half we had some really good sets, but we didn’t convert in the 22 a couple of times. 

“If we could have got to 27-17 then it could have been a gold medal finish. We could have put a bit of pressure on Ireland but those first 20 minutes killed us.”

Week two of the Six Nations sees the long trek north to a venue where Wales has enjoyed a lot of success in the past. Nothing, though, can be taken for granted as far as Forshaw is concerned.

“For me it’s about building this week and ensuring we have a better start than we did last week. That’s the first thing on my brain,” he added.  

“We have to get into the game early without being under the pump with discipline. There’s been a bit of a focus on that. 

“I’m expecting a really tough game and it’s all about performance. When I look at Scottish rugby at the moment, I don’t think Glasgow have lost since November and Edinburgh beat Saracens in Europe.  

“Then the national team goes to Twickenham and beats England. They are a group that are really on a high and have some good coaches.  

“I’ve watched most of their games and I thought they were super on the weekend. They pose a massive threat.”

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