Fly-half Sam Costelow has been recalled to the Wales starting line-up for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin.

The Scarlets number 10 went off because of a neck problem suffered when Wales were beaten 27-26 by opening Six Nations opponents Scotland.

He was replaced by Ioan Lloyd, who started at fly-half in the Twickenham appointment with England, but Costelow now returns as a solitary change from that game.

Elsewhere, there are further starts for squad newcomers Cameron Winnett and Alex Mann, while centre George North wins his 120th cap and is only the third Wales player to reach that mark after Alun Wyn Jones and Gethin Jenkins.

Magnus Bradbury, Alex Craig, Blair Kinghorn, WP Nel and Hamish Watson have joined the Scotland squad ahead of the weekend’s Six Nations match against England.

They replace Josh Bayliss, Javan Sebastian and Ross McCann, while Darcy Graham remains out after sustaining a groin injury last week and is subject to further assessment.

Toulouse’s Kinghorn has recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the first two games and he met up with the group at the start of the week.

The back-row options have been bolstered by the return of Bristol flanker Bradbury and – after making his 150th appearance for Edinburgh at the weekend – Watson is called up.

Following the injury to Richie Gray in Cardiff, Scarlets second row Craig has joined the squad. The 26-year-old has two caps, playing twice in 2021, including the win over France away from home.

Nel has recovered from his injury and replaces Sebastian, but Bayliss has been ruled out of the squad due to concussion.

Chris Ashton believes Ollie Lawrence has the physical presence to become the long-term successor to Manu Tuilagi as England’s midfield powerhouse.

For the first time in this Guinness Six Nations, both Lawrence and Tuilagi are available after recovering from respective hip and groin injuries and Steve Borthwick is deciding what role they should play in Saturday’s clash with Scotland.

Owing to their lack of match fitness, former England wing Ashton insists the existing midfield of Fraser Dingwall and Henry Slade needs to be retained with Lawrence included on the bench.

And while the rampaging, if injury-prone, Tuilagi still has a role to play at 32 years old, Ashton feels Lawrence is ready to show he can also punch holes in defences at Test level.

“Ollie seems like a very, very similar to Manu and its taken his move to Bath to realise his full potential in how good he can be,” BBC Rugby Union Daily podcast co-host Ashton told the PA news agency.

“Against Toulouse a few weeks ago he was outstanding. We have yet to see that at England level, but I see Ollie as the perfect replacement for Manu, a really natural fit.

“When Manu’s available you still have to use him because he’s so different, but he’s more of a risk because he hasn’t had any game time.

“He can come off the bench and do 15 or 20 minutes, but that’s a problem in itself because if someone goes down early and Manu’s got to go on, then he’s at real high risk because he’s got to do 60 or 70 minutes.

“Ollie’s less risky just because of his age, the number of injuries he’s had is quite low and he’s played a lot of ruby for Bath this season, so he can get going quickly. I would be leaning towards Ollie on the bench for those factors.”

Dingwall is the most likely to lose out because of the availability of Lawrence and Tuilagi, having produced solid but unspectacular performances against Italy and Wales, and Borthwick could decide a more muscular carrier is needed at inside centre.

But Ashton, who won 44 caps in a distinguished England career lasting from 2010 to 2019, believes he should be retained for the Calcutta Cup showdown at Murrayfield.

“Fraser is a very unselfish player and is the kind of player I would love to play with,” Ashton said.

“You know he’s always going to provide and work hard to get to places that not necessarily everyone would cover. He’s a link player and he’s knows how to combine and provide for everybody else.

“You know that he will provide the right pass or cover your inside shoulder all the time. Every team needs players like him.”

One change forced upon Borthwick will be at scrum-half after Alex Mitchell was ruled out by a knee injury, creating a vacancy for either Danny Care or Ben Spencer to fill.

“It’s a shocker to lose Mitchell because he’s so good. He’s a big loss and it’s not great timing going into these games,” Ashton said.

“Before we all thought he was an attacking nine, but he showed at the World Cup he can do it all and he’s carried on doing that in the Six Nations.

“He’s just such a threat, especially because of the danger he poses near the try-line when he pulls people out of place. You can’t coach the skills Alex has.”

* Chris Ashton is a co-host of the BBC’s ‘Rugby Union Daily’ podcast with new episodes available every morning during Six Nations match weeks.

England’s prospects of reclaiming the Calcutta Cup from Scotland have been dealt a blow after scrum-half Alex Mitchell was ruled out of the Murrayfield showdown with a knee problem.

The Rugby Football Union confirmed that Mitchell will miss the pivotal Guinness Six Nations round three game because of an injury that requires further investigation before a date for his return can be set.

Harry Randall has been named as the replacement in Steve Borthwick’s 36-man training squad with Danny Care and Ben Spencer competing to fill the void in the number nine jersey in Edinburgh.

Dan Cole was given the green light to continue his England career by wife Isobel having decided he did not want to join the contingent of players retiring after the World Cup.

Cole took stock of his Test future after helping England finish third at last autumn’s global showpiece knowing that Courtney Lawes, Jonny May and Ben Youngs had already played their final international games.

The 36-year-old prop has re-established himself in the front row under Steve Borthwick after spending three years in Red Rose exile and is eager to make the most of his time at the top.

“My wife is very understanding that I haven’t got many games left. It was a joint decision,” Cole said.

“She understands that with Steve and the coaches that she knows from Leicester, it is a very good team environment and place to be. I won’t be doing it forever, so enjoy it.”

When asked if the current Six Nations would be his last campaign with England, Cole replied: “I haven’t made up my mind. I haven’t thought about it so far, we’ll see how it goes.

“After the World Cup I thought about everything really. I had a conversation with Steve and he said to me after Courtney had announced his retirement at a press conference ‘are you planning any press conferences or announcements?’.

“I said that ‘I’ve got to speak to my wife and to you Steve because if you’re not going to pick me then I will’. He said that I’d like you to have the option (to play on). I was like fair enough because I owe Steve a lot. And here I am!

“It’s one of those things where you never want to give up, but at the same time you can understand why boys with families do because international rugby is a tough environment to be in. It’s intense.”

Cole will be involved in next Saturday’s visit to Murrayfield where England will be aiming to register a third win of this year’s Six Nations, keeping them on course for the Grand Slam.

The Leicester tighthead’s scrummaging expertise has led to his Test resurgence and he believes the set-piece is more vital than it has ever been.

“Tournament by tournament in international rugby, there are less scrums but they are of higher importance, which is why teams don’t want to give an inch there,” Cole said.

“You have seen in the first couple of weeks of the Six Nations they can sometimes be a bit messy and slow.

“I know the reaction to that over the first couple of weeks of the Six Nations hasn’t been great, but obviously it can be a massive turning point in the game.

“It’s tough because it’s so important and every scrum is heightened. You are playing international rugby and so you are not going to be playing against any mugs, everyone knows what they’re doing and everyone is good.”

Wales prop Keiron Assiratti is set to face Guinness Six Nations opponents Ireland a year after his professional rugby career hung in the balance.

He considered signing for Welsh Premiership club Merthyr as the regional game in Wales grappled with major financial issues that stalled contract offers to players.

Assiratti had nothing on the table from Cardiff, and he seriously considered dropping down a level, while also potentially finding work outside of rugby.

But the subsequent turnaround in fortunes surpassed all expectations, with a one-year deal eventually being signed last summer before an extended contract was agreed midway through this season.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland also came calling, handing the 26-year-old a Test debut against World Cup warm-up opponents England.

Although Assiratti missed out on World Cup squad selection, he has made a strong impression in the Six Nations with his displays in defeat to Scotland and England.

Runaway title favourites Ireland now await in Dublin next weekend, with Assiratti top of the props on the tighthead side of Wales’ scrum.

“It is a big change, to be fair,” he said.

“This time 12 months ago I didn’t know what I was doing with my rugby. Now, I can say I am doing quite well, so it has been a big turnaround.

“I had to think about getting a job for my family to try and secure everything.

“I was thinking of signing for Merthyr. That is what I was going to do. I didn’t think I was going to get anything at Cardiff at that time.

“I was speaking to one of the Merthyr coaches, but I also let things play out at Cardiff, then I had a run of games and now here I am.

“I wasn’t playing at all in the first half of last season, and it was really frustrating. I had to stick at it because I have got a family.

“Now, when I think about what could have been and what is happening, I am glad I stuck at it.”

When Assiratti featured against England in August 2023, he fulfilled a promise he made to his late grandfather almost two years earlier.

Assiratti and his Cardiff team-mates were stuck in isolation at a Cape Town hotel during the coronavirus pandemic, having travelled to play two United Rugby Championship games, when he had a final telephone conversation with his grandfather before he died.

He told him during the call that he would play for Wales, and Assiratti now heads to Dublin as first-choice tighthead.

“I would love him to still be here, but I am doing it for my family now. Hopefully, he is up there feeling proud,” Assiratti added.

“I am enjoying playing and having the exposure of my first Six Nations.

“It was good to go up against Joe Marler at the weekend, a really experienced loosehead, and it was a good battle between us.

“It is going to be a test for us going out there (to Dublin) with a young squad, but as (captain) Daf Jenkins has said, we can’t keep going on about having a young squad. We just have to go there and meet fire with fire.

“I feel like it’s going to come, so people just have to be a little patient with us.”

Paul O’Connell believes the legacy of influential former captain Johnny Sexton lives on among Ireland’s 2024 Guinness Six Nations squad.

The reigning Grand Slam champions have made a strong start to the post-Sexton era by bouncing back from Rugby World Cup disappointment with successive championship wins over France and Italy.

Forwards coach O’Connell admits there was a degree of trepidation about how the team would respond to the agonising quarter-final defeat to New Zealand and losing their long-serving leader.

Sexton, 38, retired immediately after the 28-24 Paris loss in October but has been credited with having a lasting impact on senior members of Andy Farrell’s squad, including new skipper Peter O’Mahony.

“I suppose you’re very hopeful that the work we’ve done with all of the players kind of comes through, but you’re a bit nervous that it might not happen as well,” O’Connell said of the new era.

“We’re only two games in so we’ve plenty of battles ahead of us.

“I think one thing that maybe Johnny has given a lot of the guys is he’s shown how much you have to care about the team and how much you have to care about how you prepare.

“He’s been a great example to some of the guys that are going to end up as leaders in the team.

“While he’s gone, his legacy from how he used to go about his business still lives on with us.

“A lot of the guys – Peter O’Mahony, Caelan Doris, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Garry Ringrose – they’ve a few of his qualities in them that helps us arrive to a good place every Saturday when we play.”

Ireland resume their title defence at home to Wales on February 24, ahead of March appointments with England and Scotland.

Many pundits already feel it is a formality that Farrell’s men will become the first side to claim back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations era.

Former Ireland captained O’Connell, who won the competition three times as a player, thinks players are adept at “ignoring the bigger picture”.

“We talk about winning, for sure, we always want to win the tournaments we’re playing in and we talk about winning them but once we’ve cleared that up, we don’t really talk about it much more,” said the 44-year-old.

“We just focus on the next game. We focus on what needs to be better for the next game and get excited about doing the things we feel might lead to a performance.

“It’s something that the players do really well. It’s a practised skill being next-game focused.

“Andy’s big into it; Joe Schmidt (former Ireland head coach) was big into it back in the day and a lot of the players are big into it because it helps them prepare properly by ignoring the bigger picture.”

Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell believes being without star full-back Hugo Keenan against Wales could be a blessing in disguise.

Keenan suffered a knee issue during Sunday’s 36-0 Guinness Six Nations win over Italy and did not take part in physical training on Thursday.

The influential 27-year-old, who is yet to be ruled out of the round-three clash with Warren Gatland’s men on February 24 in Dublin, has been virtually ever-present in the number 15 jersey during the past three years.

Aside from Keenan, only the injured Jimmy O’Brien and out of favour Michael Lowry have started at full-back for Ireland since the end of 2020.

“He didn’t train today but he hasn’t been ruled out for the Welsh game yet,” O’Connell said of Keenan.

“He’s progressing with his rehabilitation. He was there at training today and he took part in all the organisational bits.

“He plays a big role. He’s obviously injury-free for a very long time, he’s an excellent player.

“It’s probably good for us in some ways because it makes us play someone else there if he doesn’t make it.

“But I’m not sure yet where he’s at. He was around training today so we’d be hopeful.”

Fly-half Jack Crowley filled in for Keenan in the closing stages against the Azzurri, while Ciaran Frawley is another potential replacement.

Current squad members Jordan Larmour and Jacob Stockdale were given opportunities at 15 early in Andy Farrell’s reign but have barely featured in selections since.

“At full-back, you’re covering the back field defensively and he (Keenan) has a lot of work to do in attack as well,” said O’Connell.

“There’s a lot of IP (intellectual property) that we might miss out on if he wasn’t playing.

“He also plays a big leadership role for us. He’s a very smart guy, he’s a problem-solver within the group, he’s highly regarded within the group.

“Whether he’s there or not, he’ll continue to play that role.”

Reigning champions Ireland top the table following back-to-back bonus-point wins over France and Italy.

Keenan was the only member of Farrell’s squad to sit out Thursday’s session.

Captain Peter O’Mahony, prop Tadhg Furlong and centres Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose each featured following their respective injury issues.

Former Ireland skipper O’Connell believes Ringrose, who is yet to feature in this year’s tournament due to a shoulder problem, is on track to return against Wales.

“It looks like it, he trained today, we didn’t do a massive session,” he said. “He’s in good shape.”

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso knew the time to choose between England and Wales would come but not quite so soon.

Less than a year after helping Taunton Titans escape relegation from National League One, the 21-year-old Exeter wing made his Test debut in the Guinness Six Nations.

Whether he would commit to England or Wales became a matter of urgency when he began shredding defences for the Chiefs in his first season in the Gallagher Premiership.

 

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Born and raised in Cardiff, he qualifies for England through his grandmother, and the tug of war for his allegiance began when he was first called by Steve Borthwick in November.

By January, his mind was made up and he was picked in Borthwick’s squad for the Six Nations with his first cap against Italy following soon after.

“The first conversation I had with Steve was after Northampton away and that wasn’t even a good game for me. That was a terrible game for me!” Feyi-Waboso said.

“He rang me after that and said I’m on his radar. I was really shocked at the call and I kind of thought he was just saying I’m in his mind, but obviously I’m here now.

“It’s always been something to think about. I moved to England. A lot of my family are English.

“My grandmother [Margaret Spence Taylor] is English, lives in Gloucester. My dad [Andrew] is half-English and my mum’s Nigerian.

“As soon as I got into England it was a decision to think about, but I thought it would be a lot further in the future.

“I blocked out a lot of the noise (around the decision). I have a lot of good people around me, like family. They helped my decision and definitely didn’t force my hand. It was definitely my decision.”

Feyi-Waboso’s availability was considered a formality by Wales, but they underestimated the strength of his English ties and determination to study medicine.

Despite being awarded three A stars for his ‘A’ levels, he was unable to secure a place at Cardiff University and having then enrolled at Aston University, the financial collapse of his club Wasps placed him in limbo.

The Chiefs provided him with a new home and a place at Exeter University, where he is able to pursue his true calling.

“I enjoy learning, it’s what I enjoyed even before rugby. If I wasn’t playing rugby, my ideal situation would be just to stay in uni, keep learning, keep going,” he said.

“But obviously being a doctor is a career of constant learning. You don’t really stop. You do five years in uni, then you have two foundation years, then specialise … it’s not boring.

“I feel like learning is now habitual. It’s just something that I really want to do – become a doctor.”

Balancing his medical course with the demands of playing for Exeter and England takes careful planning, and he is being assisted by team doctor Katy Hornby.

“I have an exam in a couple of weeks. So I might have to go back for that, do the exam, then come back to the Six Nations,” he said.

“I also have an exam three days after we come back from France so I’ll be revising. It can be a lot to think about, but you make timetables and you manage – you do manage.

“And there’s a lot of help around – I’m going to do some exam prep with the [RFU] doc.”

England are ready to thrust Manu Tuilagi straight into their Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland following his recovery from a groin problem.

Tuilagi has been added to Steve Borthwick’s squad for their fallow week training camp in London having missed the opening two Guinness Six Nations rounds because of the injury sustained in December.

If the 32-year-old centre plays at Murrayfield on February 24 it will be his first appearance for nine weeks, but England are confident he would rise to the occasion.

Defence coach Felix Jones said: “Manu had little bit of a run around out there today (Wednesday). It wasn’t anything too intense but he looked good.

“He’s done it a number of times where he’s come back from injury with low levels of game time but still been able to perform at a very high level. Experience accounts for a lot in those situations.”

If Tuilagi proves his fitness in training over the coming days, Borthwick must decide whether to break up the centre partnership of Fraser Dingwall and Henry Slade that started the victories over Italy and Wales or confine him to a bench role.

Tuilagi provides the ability to punch over the gainline currently lacked by the back division and England know that Scotland will build much of their attack around their own muscular carrier Sione Tuipulotu.

The prospect of Ollie Lawrence being available for the round three showdown in Edinburgh is less certain as he overcomes a hip injury.

The Bath powerhouse, another midfield option, was involved in training on Wednesday and a clearer picture of his readiness will emerge over the coming days.

Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and lock George Martin are both in contention against Scotland after being added to Borthwick’s 36-man training squad.

Cowan-Dickie was forced to withdraw from the original Six Nations squad after an undisclosed medical condition materialised when he was on club duty for Sale.

His availability will relieve the pressure on captain Jamie George, whose workload has been increased by the lack of experienced alternatives in the position.

Martin’s fitness will be welcomed by England, who benefited from his menacing display against South Africa in the semi-final of last autumn’s World Cup – his most recent international appearance.

The 22-year-old had tweaked his knee, ruling him out of the start of the Six Nations, but will look to secure a place in the second or back row against Scotland.

Adam Beard says Wales will relish the size of their challenge against Guinness Six Nations title favourites Ireland in Dublin.

Wales have not won a Six Nations game at the Aviva Stadium since 2012, drawing one and losing four of the subsequent meetings.

And they face an Ireland side firmly on course to achieve an historic feat of winning Six Nations Grand Slams in successive seasons.

Having accounted for France and Italy in bonus-point fashion, Andy Farrell’s team will be backed by many to inflict similar pain on Wales on February 24.

Wales lost their opening games to Scotland and England – albeit by a combined total of just three points – so a tall order awaits them.

“Physicality is going to be one of the key components of the game,” 53-cap Wales lock Beard said.

“You see the way Ireland play their rugby. It is all about speed, winning collisions and the breakdown.

“Defensively, we have to match up with that physical battle, and in attack it’s about being clinical and physical. It will be a tough game, but one we are looking forward to.

“Ireland are a team that are playing with confidence, and it helps when a lot of them play club rugby together. We are excited to get stuck into them.”

Wales have a new look about them in this season’s Six Nations, with Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar having retired from Test rugby, Louis Rees-Zammit now concentrating on a possible American football career and the likes of Jac Morgan, Taulupe Faletau and Dewi Lake all injured.

It has meant Six Nations opportunities for others, including players like Cameron Winnett, Ioan Lloyd, Archie Griffin and Alex Mann, while 21-year-old Exeter lock Dafydd Jenkins is Wales’ youngest captain for 56 years.

Beard added: “We are not far away. This squad is fairly new and boys are experiencing Six Nations rugby for the first time.

“These narrow losses (27-26 against Scotland and 16-14 against England) are disappointing, but can be good for us because it is a learning curve for a lot of players.

“If we keep working hard and developing our game, we are going to be a tough squad to beat and winning a lot more games than we are losing.

“It has probably been two great 40-minute performances from each game. We are a young squad, but Daf Jenkins hit the nail on the head after the (England) game that we can’t use that as an excuse.”

Beard has been impressed with Jenkins’ leadership, a quality he has carried into the tournament after skippering Exeter this season to strong positions in the Gallagher Premiership and Investec Champions Cup.

“He is doing great,” Beard said.

“There are a lot of leaders in this squad, and we are trying to help him out as much as possible and not have too much weight on his shoulders.

“He has had a lot of experience captaining Exeter, and he has taken things in his stride.

“It has not affected his performances in any shape or form. He has been playing some of his best rugby.

“He speaks when he needs to speak, and people listen.”

World Rugby has no plans to issue any public explanation regarding the controversial decision not to award Scotland what would have been a match-winning try in last Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations defeat by France at Murrayfield, the PA news agency understands.

The Scots – trailing 20-16 – thought they had secured victory when replacement lock Sam Skinner pushed through and appeared to ground the ball on the line under a ruck of bodies as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark.

Referee Nic Berry’s on-field decision was “no try”, and after several minutes of high drama while footage was reviewed from various angles, TMO Brian MacNeice, having initially suggested he could see the ball on the ground, advised that there was “no conclusive evidence” to change the original call, much to the hosts’ dismay.

“I just don’t understand how the referee didn’t see it,” former Scotland international Craig Chalmers told PA on Monday. “He should have got in closer to it and put his hands in and had a better look.”

Head coach Gregor Townsend was similarly bewildered by the process that led to the try not being awarded. “I don’t understand the rationale,” he said in his post-match media briefing on Saturday.

“When you see the pictures, and when you also see the conversation, they have already said between them that the ball has been placed on the tryline.”

When asked last weekend if Scotland would be seeking further explanation from World Rugby, Townsend said: “It doesn’t really matter.

“We’ll get feedback, we do regularly, and that’ll be one of some incidents we’ll ask for clarification on, but it doesn’t change the outcome, unfortunately.”

Townsend regularly liaises with World Rugby regarding issues arising from matches and he wrote to the governing body after the France game, as he had done the previous week when seeking clarification over the number of penalties that went against his side in their victory away to Wales.

The head coach spoke with referee Berry after the France match and communication lines remain open between Scottish Rugby and the sport’s governing body, but Scotland are not demanding or expecting an apology or an admission that a mistake was made regarding Skinner’s disallowed try.

Despite the ferocity of the backlash, World Rugby will be sticking to their stance of not commenting publicly on specific officials’ decisions and are not expected to issue any clarification to clear the situation up in the public domain.

Although there remains a deep sense of injustice among Scotland’s players, coaches and supporters, the furore surrounding Saturday’s pivotal last-gasp flashpoint appears to be subsiding.

England will be reinforced for their Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland by the return from injury of Manu Tuilagi, George Martin and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

The trio missed the opening two rounds of the Guinness Six Nations but come into contention for the trip to Murrayfield on February 24 after being included in a 36-man training squad named for the first fallow week.

Ollie Lawrence faces a battle to prove his fitness with the Bath centre continuing to rehab his hip problem in camp, alongside Marcus Smith, who has a calf problem. No date has been set for either player’s comeback.

Mike Ruddock resigned as Wales head coach on this day in 2006.

The then 46-year-old stepped down just 11 months after he led his country to their first Six Nations Grand Slam triumph in 27 years, leaving the side in turmoil.

Ruddock left the top job after deciding he did not want to sacrifice his family life to lead Wales into the 2007 World Cup.

After he resigned, he said: “After consultation with my family, I have made the decision to stand down as national coach.

“I have decided to withdraw from contract talks to take Wales to the 2007 World Cup in France. This has been a tough decision to make but I have decided to put my family first.

“What I have found during my two years as coach is that the position is ‘more than a job’. That has meant I have spent long periods away from my family, in camp and overseas.

“As a consequence, I felt the intense build-up to next year’s World Cup would mean more time away from my family. That is something, on refection, I would like to avoid.”

Ruddock won 13 of his 20 games in charge, guiding them to Grand Slam success in 2005 with a 32-20 victory over Ireland alongside a famous 24-22 win over Australia – for the first time in 18 years – at the Millennium Stadium.

Ruddock’s resignation came days after he saw Wales claim a 28-18 win over Scotland in Cardiff.

Gareth Jenkins succeeded Ruddock and signed a two-year deal to take over.

Ioan Lloyd feels he has benefited from the presence of former international half-backs Neil Jenkins and Rob Howley in adapting to life as Wales’ number 10.

Lloyd helped orchestrate Wales’ thrilling fightback from 27-0 adrift in their opening Guinness Six Nations game against Scotland, after going on as replacement for an injured Sam Costelow.

His first Wales start then came in the fly-half role at Twickenham last weekend during a 16-14 defeat against England.

The 22-year-old’s impressive versatility has also seen him feature as a full-back, wing and centre during his club and regional career with Bristol and now the Scarlets.

But he admitted that fly-half was his preferred position and he was making the most of having ex-Wales pair Jenkins and Howley, who won almost 150 caps between them, as part of the national squad coaching staff.

“Neil Jenkins has talked a lot about speed into position – and Rob Howley has as well – and also speed from catch to whatever you are going to do, whether it is pass or kick,” Lloyd said.

“We’ve talked a lot through it and obviously I have got to see exactly what he (Jenkins) is talking about over the last couple of weeks. I think that little bit of a reminder has helped me a lot.

“I think the 10 position is one of the game-drivers, one of the main game-leaders, so that sort of pressure is expected.

“It is something that I have anticipated going into the 10 jersey. I think 10s everywhere will take a lot of scrutiny and probably not as much praise as they should in other aspects.

“I am just trying to put my best foot forward and execute my role within the team. There are a lot of learnings from the first two weekends.

“I try not to think about external factors too much, I just try and go out there and play rugby.

“I see myself as a fly-half. Obviously, any opportunity to pull on the red jersey – whether it’s at prop or fly-half – I will take it.”

With Costelow now fit again following a neck problem, it remains to be seen which direction Wales head coach Warren Gatland goes in for fly-half duty against runaway Six Nations title favourites Ireland on Saturday week.

And while Wales have lost their opening two Six Nations games – albeit by a combined margin of just three points – there were also plenty of positive signs from a new-look squad.

Lloyd added: “We talk a lot about playing heads-up rugby, the pictures in front of us and not being afraid to take the opportunities when they come.

“Obviously, there is a fine balance between that and taking risks.

“I think the stuff we tried at the weekend (at Twickenham) weren’t risks. We felt they were on and that is where the space was.

“Execution comes into that then and ours wasn’t good enough at times. I think that is something we can build on.

“There is a confidence around the place. We are a young team, but that doesn’t mean these games are throwaway games. We are still going into them expecting to win and a certain standard from each other.

“The experience isn’t necessarily there from all of us, but we have still got that confidence in training and games that we can execute. When we don’t, it is very disappointing.”

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