Defence is the key for coach Edwards


Last updated at 17:45 18 May 2007

Shaun Edwards, the most decorated player in rugby league history, is backing Wasps to make their own history on Sunday by wrecking another Twickenham party for Leicester.

But the coach has left his players in no doubt that stopping the Tigers from adding the Heineken Cup to their Premiership and Anglo-Welsh trophies will be the toughest proposition of all.

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Shaun Edwards

"This would be our greatest ever win," said Edwards, aware of how Wasps ruined Martin Johnson's farewell match by smashing Leicester in the 2005 Grand Final. "I'm not a great believer in looking back to past victories for any solace.

"I'm satisfied that I have a very determined team going into this final."

That Edwards should consider this challenge greater than that posed by Toulouse in the 2004 European final is a tribute to Leicester.

He added: "If we get our defence right, everything else will fall into place. Last Saturday was a good example of a team (losing Grand Finalists Gloucester) not getting it right and paying the price."

Edwards, aiming to join the select few to coach more than one European-Cup winning team, has rejected opportunities elsewhere, including coaching the Great Britain rugby league team.

"Wasps gave me my first chance in coaching and I like coming to work at the club every day," he said.

"Of the other opportunities with international teams, they all would have involved lengthy periods of inactivity away from the training paddock. I like to be involved all the time."

The Anglo-French boycott of the European Cup is expected to be formally abandoned within the next seven days.

After a week's exhaustive negotiation, peace is on the verge of breaking out at long last.

"It's more likely now than at any time in the last few months that we will be playing in Europe next season," said Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Premier Rugby Ltd, the Premiership's umbrella organisation.

The rival parties are also 'closer' to agreeing a sum of compensation for the block release of England's elite players.

London Irish prop Neal Hatley captains England A in tonight's opening Churchill Cup match against the United States at Edgeley Park. He has two full internationals at his disposal — fellow London Irishman Shane Geraghty in the centre and Saracens wing Dan Scarbrough.

ENGLAND A — D Armitage (Lon Irish); D Scarbrough (Saracens), K Sorrell (Saracens), S Geraghty (Lon Irish), T Ojo (Lon Irish); R Lamb (Gloucester), R Wigglesworth (Sale); N Hatley (Lon Irish, capt), D Paice (Lon Irish), J Brooks (Northampton); R Blaze (Worcester), J Evans (Harlequins); P Dowson (Newcastle), J Crane (Leicester), W Skinner (Harlequins).

Subs: M Thompson (Newcastle), J Forster (Gloucester), T Mercey (Saracens), N Kennedy (Lon Irish), B Woods, L Dickson (both Newcastle), N Mordt (Lon Irish).

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