Shanklin ‘surprise’ at Welsh form

Lions hopeful Tom Shanklin admits that he is slightly surprised to find Wales poised for their first Grand Slam since 1978. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

Lions hopeful Tom Shanklin admits that he is slightly surprised to find Wales poised for their first Grand Slam since 1978.

Wales have swept all before them during this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship, scoring 15 tries and 117 points in defeating England, Italy, France and Scotland.

Several Welsh players, such as Stephen Jones and Shane Williams, have forced their way into contention for the Lions with impressive showings in this season’s tournament.

Ireland, whose own Grand Slam dream was destroyed when France triumphed in Dublin on Saturday, now stand between Wales and a championship clean sweep.

Next Saturday’s Millennium Stadium showdown – Ireland can still win the RBS 6 Nations title and Triple Crown – now takes centre-stage, and Wales centre Shanklin cannot wait.

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Wales were a 40/1 pre-Six Nations shot with the bookmakers for Grand Slam glory but coach Mike Ruddock’s attack-minded entertainers have mocked those odds.

"There is a little bit [of surprise] but we certainly knew that we were capable of doing it," said Shanklin, sporting three stitches in a facial cut from the record-breaking 46-22 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.

"There has been a progression since the World Cup and just winning a few games on the trot has given us more confidence.

"I think we’ve shown a bit of everything in this championship. Certainly, when we played against France we came back at them after being behind, and we also beat England in a close game, then we killed Scotland off in the first half.

"I have been slightly surprised but in a great way. I knew we were all capable of doing it but we’ve shown that we are pretty consistent now."

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