WALES full-back Leigh Halfpenny has cautioned against talk of a last-day Six Nations decider with England, insisting next opponents Scotland cannot be underestimated.
Following an opening defeat at home to Ireland, Wales have got their title defence firmly back on track with away victories over France and Italy in recent weeks. With undefeated England expected to sweep aside Italy at Twickenham in their next fixture, the Welsh are seen as the only team that can deny Stuart Lancaster’s side the Grand Slam in what is widely predicted to be a winner-takes-all encounter in Cardiff on 16 March.
However, Halfpenny has urged his team-mates not to overlook the scale of the task they face in overcoming Scotland at Murrayfield seven days earlier. He said: “There’s a bit of talk starting to do the rounds about our meeting with England on the final day being a potential Championship decider. But there’s none of that talk amongst us. We’d be setting ourselves up for a fall if there was, and Scotland will quite rightly feel they are in with a real shout of the silverware as well.
“Winning away from home is not easy in international rugby, and that’s why we are chuffed with our last two wins. But it only underlines what a challenge it will be to make it three out of three up in Scotland.”
Rob Howley’s side will target a third successive triumph at Murrayfield but, after Scott Johnson led Scotland to back-to-back successes in the Six Nations for the first time in over a decade with Sunday’s win against Ireland, Halfpenny is cautious.
In his column for Wales Online, he added: “Although we have a good record there in recent years, it is never an easy place to go and all the more so after their win against Ireland. I didn’t see the game because we were travelling back from Italy but the result means they too will be bouncing by the time we pitch up in Edinburgh.
“Scott Johnson has clearly had an effect on them because they look as though they are starting to produce some really impressive stuff.”