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King pleased with ‘exciting’ Wales

Alex King (centre) with Jon Humphreys and Warren Gatland

King pleased with ‘exciting’ Wales

Wales attack coach Alex King is expecting Steve Borthwick’s England side to put in a strong performance at Twickenham this weekend when Wales seek to build on their 20-9 victory in the opening Vodafone Summer Series game in Cardiff.

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Borthwick named his 33-man World Cup squad on Monday and is expected to name a completely different team. Nine of the starting XV at Principality Stadium made the World Cup squad.

“We know they’ll be hurting after the weekend. I’ve read a bit of the English press and they’ve not been too kind to them.,” said King, speaking at the open training session at Principality Stadium that saw 9,000 fans turn up to watch Wales.

“We know they’ve got players to come back and that everyone is at slightly different points in their development. This is all preparation for something that is going to kick off in a month’s time in France.

“We’ll concentrate on ourselves and try and improve on some areas.”

The win over England last weekend was a real morale boosting performance for players and coaches alike. It also put the seal on a wonderful celebration of Leigh Halfpenny’s 100th cap for his country.

After a difficult Six Nations campaign, King has been part of a huge training effort both on and off the field at camps in Cardiff, Switzerland and Turkey. Fitness was identified by Warren Gatland as a problem earlier in the year, but it certainly wasn’t an issue against England

“Towards the end of the Six Nations we were starting to get an identity in what we were trying to do. It was a tough time for Welsh rugby and there was a lot going on off the field, but the boys stuck together,” said King.

“This group has been working hard for 11 weeks and it was great to see some of the stuff we’ve been working on come through. It was certainly a good start both sides of the ball.

“We were resilient and stayed in the fight first half when we were under the cosh. Then when we got the chance second half, we were pretty accurate and probably left two or three out there as well.”

King believes the Welsh back division is full of flair and believes there is genuine excitement when the back three players get the ball in their hands.

“When Rio (Dyer), Louis (Rees-Zammit) and ‘Pens’ (Leigh Halfpenny) get the ball there’s an excitement. That’s how we want to play, but with a tactical brain as well,” added King.

“There’s a balance there underpinned by good defence and a good set-piece, and if we want to be successful over the next two months all parts of our game must be functioning.

“There were moments in the second half that were testament to Welsh rugby which, to me, is about ball movement, speedy backs and getting the crowd excited. I’ve seen the quality and level of work we’ve done over the last 11 weeks and I was pleased with the attitude and mindset to really go and play.”

King also gave an update on hooker Ryan Elias and lock Dafydd Jenkins, who both left the field with injuries against England. Neither are understood to be serious enough to put their World Cup ambitions at risk.

Injured backs Gareth Anscombe and Johnny Williams joined Elias and Jenkins in sitting out the session.

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