Forshaw hopes to match Edwards' Wales impact

1 month ago 20
Mike Forshaw replaced Gethin Jenkins as the Wales defence coachMike Forshaw replaced Gethin Jenkins as the Wales defence coach
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 11 February Kick-off:16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and Radio 5 Sports Extra, the BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app. Highlights and analysis, Scrum V Six Nations, BBC Two Wales, Sunday, 12 February from 18:00 GMT and later on demand.

New Wales defence coach Mike Forshaw is hoping to emulate former team-mate and fellow rugby league convert Shaun Edwards by making an impact on Welsh rugby.

Forshaw has been brought in by Warren Gatland to join a new-look Wales backroom staff for the New Zealander's second stint in charge, an era which started with a 34-10 Six Nations home defeat to Ireland.

Edwards was Gatland's Wales defence guru between 2008 and 2019, a period which saw Wales win four Six Nations titles and three Grand Slams as well as reaching two World Cup semi-finals.

Forshaw and Edwards were both born in Wigan, played together for the hometown club as they won the World Club Challenge in 1991 and represented Great Britain in rugby league.

Now Forshaw has joined the Wales coaching set-up, while Edwards moved on to France when Gatland's first reign ended after the 2019 World Cup.

"On my first day here I did a bit of an icebreaker and put up three slides," said Forshaw.

"One of them was a picture of me and Shaun playing together and I said to the lads that if I have half the impact this fella did, then I'll be doing all right."

Forshaw, though, is determined to forge his own path with Wales.

"I know Shaun very well but we haven't really done much tactical work," he added.

"I had a few texts with him when it was announced I was coming into this position.

"I'm my own man and believe in what I do myself.

"I've got a lot of respect for Shaun. He's a good friend and we go back a long way. I've brought my own ideas which is the right thing to do. It's a new era now."

Forshaw knows the expectation around former rugby league players and coaches coming into international union positions, having seen another good friend - and Wigan graduate - Andy Farrell make the transition, first with England, then Ireland.

"When Andy first got his job, he was under the pump and the media were writing him off," said Forshaw.

"It comes with the territory in international rugby. I get that and I've been around the game a long time.

"I'm not too flapped about it, and believe in what I'm trying to get here."

Forshaw joined Wales' coaching staff from Gallagher Premiership club Sale Sharks, having been one of three new faces recruited by Gatland alongside Alex King and Jonathan Thomas.

Six Nations 2023: Wales aim to avoid giving Scotland chances - Forshaw

Forshaw had been at Sale for a decade, and opted to leave a club flourishing and with ambitions of winning the league. So why swap that for Wales?

"I've just turned 53 and I thought that if there is ever going to be a job available in international rugby, this is probably the one I would love to have been offered," Forshaw said.

"That sounds a bit corny but it's not. There has been a lot of transition from the autumn with a lot of changes, and with Warren, I just thought it was too good an opportunity with a World Cup coming up.

"I'd been at Sale 10 years, I think hopefully they will go on and win the Premiership this year to be fair.

"I spoke to my wife, I spoke to people like Shaun, Andy Farrell, and the fit was right.

"I had never met Warren, I had an hour on the phone with him just after New Year's Day.

"Our paths were a bit similar, like a sixth sense. I worked in Galway at Connacht for three years, he had worked there earlier, I have a lot of good friends in Galway who are Warren's friends.

"The fit just seemed good. I think it has been a great move for me to be quite honest. I am really enjoying it."

Forshaw is relishing the new job despite the convincing defeat against Ireland, with Wales conceding four tries overall and shipping 27 points in the first 30 minutes.

Forshaw enjoyed a drink with old mate Farrell after the game.

"It was a baptism of fire," admitted Forshaw.

"I'm not too despondent because we lost the first game. I didn't expect fairytale starts anyway because that's where I'm from, and I'll just graft and graft until we can challenge in that area.

"If we can eradicate that first 20 minutes of discipline and get in the game, we can see massive improvement in this group.

"We can't kick stones. We have to get enthused quickly because selection is up there on Thursday, so people get a chance to maybe stamp their authority on this Six Nations."

Effort "in bags of abundance" is what Forshaw wants to see from his players.

"If you get that then we have a chance," added Forshaw.

"Physically I come from a team that prides itself on physicality, and that is what I am trying to instil here.

"First and foremost, it is work-rate and effort, that has got to be a given.

"There are a couple of errors from the weekend where I think we could have had a bit more effort and I am looking forward to seeing that this weekend."

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