Ken Owens: The Lion and the Grand Slam winner who have never started a World Cup game

Ken Owens: The Lion and the Grand Slam winner who have never started a World Cup game
Ken Owens made his Wales debut against Namibia at the 2011 World Cup, where he was the third choice behind Huw Bennett and Lloyd Burns

He is a British and Irish camp, a Grand Slam winner and Wales' most chopped hooker, but Ken Owens hopes to put a personal thing in Japan in the fall and start a World Cup game in the third attempt.

The 32-year-old has made six tournaments, but each time he came out of the bench with a cap at the 2011 tournament and five more in 2015 ..

He was the third choice for the 2011 event in New Zealand, and Scott Baldwin was the first choice four years later when England was host.

Since then, Owens has established himself as Warren Gatland's go-to hooker in the big games.

"Hopefully I get the opportunity to go to this World Cup and get a start," said the Star Scarlets.

"To go into 2011 I would get out of a serious injury and because a few other boys also had injuries, I made the team – and I was chuffed to get my first cap on that world championship.

"In 2015 it was pretty much the same. I had about eight or nine months out with my neck again.

"Scott had a great tournament and my role was to bring an effect out of the bench that I enjoyed.

"You make your own luck and the player's roles change in different squads.

"Hopefully, I can keep fit and prove myself to the team. It would be tremendous to make a third world championship."

Owens and the rest of the Wales team are in Switzerland, experiencing a brutal two-week training camp at height.

"It's not comfortable, but we know why we do it and what the purpose is, especially if you've been through it before," he said.

"You can see the results it gives you and the places you can get in the big battles."

Wales ranked second place behind the holders of New Zealand as the tournament tissue, thanks to a record 14-game winning race that included the 2019 Grand Slam.

The winning knit contained a rare victory against Australia in November, which ended a 13-match match that lost to them.

Wales is also facing Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay as they offer to reach the exit phases in Japan.

"To get that result against Australia was a monkey from the back and gives us confidence," said Owens.

"You saw when we beat South Africa and got one win, we've had good results with them since then.

"But the challenge will be in every game. Fiji has won in France and you see this at every world championship that when the South Sea Island sides get together for a long time, they are very dangerous.

"You can't write off Georgia either. They have some strength and weapons, and Uruguay doesn't just have to turn up and roll over to give us the points.

"We can't just say that" all we have to do is beat Australia "because we might end up losing the other games."

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