Ken Owens says Wales need to “keep building and improving” after a red-letter day saw them beat England and become world number one.
Wales’ 13-6 World Cup warm-up success in Cardiff meant they ended New Zealand’s unbroken 10-year reign as rugby union’s ranking leaders.
They also achieved it less than five weeks before the World Cup starts in Japan, with Wales having won 15 of their last 16 Tests.
Owens, though, joined Wales head coach Warren Gatland in keeping his feet firmly on the ground following such a landmark statistical feat.
“I would prefer to be there (number one) at the start of November (when the World Cup ends), but it is now just a table and something to talk about,” Wales hooker Owens said.
“We were a lot better this week,” he added, in reference to Wales’ 33-19 defeat to England at Twickenham last Sunday.
Wales have toppled New Zealand as the world’s No1 ranked team for the first time in a decade.
“We spoke about the need to start a lot better. The first 20 minutes last week cost us the game. We spoke about our line speed defensively and our accuracy in attack, and I think we delivered that.
“We dug in and got the job done. We delivered, which is a huge tick in the box for us.
“We have got to be on the money now. We’ve had probably our poor performance out of the system, that slow start people talk about, and we have got to keep building and improving. We can’t let that standard drop.”
Wales have two more preparation fixtures – home and away against Ireland – and a warm-weather training camp in Turkey before they leave for Japan next month.
And they have a solid foundation to build on after extending an unbeaten home record to 11 games which stretches back to November 2017.
https://t.co/fQKNhwQa0t pic.twitter.com/ZmrKalH0nY— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) August 19, 2019
“There were lots of pressure moments out there, especially towards the last five or 10 minutes,” Owens added.
“In fairness, the boys came up with some big plays. Dillon Lewis turned a maul over, which is a big strength of England’s.
“It (Turkey) is a good nine days to get away and get a little bit more training in away from everything.
“We can just concentrate on the rugby again and get our combinations working and get more time on the training field in full rugby situations. We want to get ready to peak for the two games against Ireland to come.”
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