Super-sub Ken Owens has the right impact
IF they were making a film of Ken Owens in this Six Nations, they would have to title it Sudden Impact.
It could hardly be anything else for a man who has come off the bench and done all in his power to help Wales finish strongly in the games with Ireland and France.
Some bleat about being among the replacements.
But others see their roles as being key parts of a 23-man squad effort.
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So we have had Sebastien Chabal coming on for France in the past and almost single-handedly transforming games.
"It's not hard to imagine him having made his getaway by biting through his chains, throttling the guard dogs and swimming across an ocean on a diet of live sharks before coming ashore on a beach in Marseille," wrote one journalist after a particularly memorable cameo against England.
Footballers David Beckham and Peter Crouch have filled the role of impact player as well, often with conspicuous success.
No doubt all would have applauded Owens's efforts in the opening two rounds of Six Nations games.
Twelve ball carries in 28 minutes against the Irish helped trigger a comeback that saw Wales claw back a 30-3 deficit and get within eight points of Brian O'Driscoll and Co.
Last weekend in Paris Ken was at it again, coming on for Richard Hibbard and doing the work of two men in the final half-hour. Low body position to the fore, he invariably scattered defenders — and even managed to achieve a ruck turnover in the final seconds.
Everyone wants to start, but some embrace being a sub with better effect than others. Owens falls into that category.
"You just have to do what you can for the side whether you are in the starting XV or not," said the hooker.
"Of course I want to start — I'm not different from anyone in that respect.
"But we have a squad here and the coaches have asked me to come on and make an impact.
"I have spent a fair bit of my career on the bench, so I know what's expected of you.
"Test rugby is ferocious and so the onus is on replacements to work really hard when they come on, to try to make a difference and try to get go-forward for the team."
Next up for Wales is Italy a week on Saturday, a match they will head into with renewed confidence after their 16-6 triumph in Paris.
Italy were destroyed by Scotland in round two.
But Owens is expecting a major test and said the challenge for Wales was to keep their feet firmly on the ground.
"If we go out there thinking we only have to turn up to win that would be asking for trouble," said Owens.
"Italy are no mugs. They dominated Scotland at forward and a week before they sent France packing.
"They had a setback at Murrayfield, but we will be giving them every respect. They have some excellent players who are capable of upsetting anyone."
Beat Italy and win in Scotland on March 9 and Wales could be playing for the championship against England in Cardiff. But Owens insists no-one is looking that far ahead.
"The thing is with the Six Nations there are twists from week to week," he added.
"You can't take anything for granted and have to perform in every game otherwise you will come unstuck.
"England is too far off to worry about at this point. The first job is to beat Italy. If we don't do that, last week would have been wasted."