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It’s been billed as the potential Six Nations decider as Wales land in London to take on England, but where will the game be won and lost? We take a look at five key talking points.
Ben Youngs and Danny Care have taken turns starting for England under Eddie Jones, with Care first to wear the No 9 jersey against Scotland, after which he has taken up a spot on the bench.
George Ford told Sky Sports that the pair use the pressure of competition to grow their game, but are supportive of each other in the build-up to a match.
“Obviously they’re both very ambitious and determined and want to start, but they fully respect when one or the other is starting and back him 100 per cent,” said Ford.
Wales on the other hand were riding high in 2015 with Rhys Webb the first-choice No 9 up until the eve of the World Cup, where a foot injury ruled him out of the tournament. Gareth Davies stepped into the role superbly, including notching up the vital score that gave Wales victory over England at Twickenham.
Gatland has brought Webb into the side on the bench, and speaking earlier this week Davies mentioned how much he is enjoying the renewed rivalry with his fellow scrum-half.
“I’ve had Aled and Lloyd Williams breathing down my neck since the start of the campaign, so it is a bit of extra pressure for me, but I enjoy it.”
With games between England and Wales often hanging in the balance throughout the full 80, it should prove to be a top-class battle between the four energetic scrum-halves until the end.
Eddie Jones has called on referee Craig Joubert to be strict on Wales come scrum-time, as he says they constantly pre-engage to gain an advantage.
“One of the things I’d like to see from Wales is that they scrum legally,” said Jones on Sky Sports News HQ.
“They’re very much a scrum that likes to pre-engage and that’s against the law, so we’re very hopeful the referee will be very strict on that.
“We believe we’ve got the stronger scrum and we want to have the opportunity to scrum strongly under the correct laws.”
This is Joubert’s first high-profile game in charge since he took control of the World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Scotland. Joubert awarded a last-gasp penalty to Australia which cost Scotland a place in the semi-finals and then incensed Scotland players and fans when he ran off the field on the whistle.
His interpretation of the set-piece will be crucial as Wales forwards coach Robin McBride has also waded into the scrum battle, saying that England loosehead prop Joe Marler does not scrum straight.
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 6 Chris Robshaw, 7 James Haskell, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Danny Care, 22 Manu Tuilagi, 23 Elliot Daly.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Rob Evans, 2 Scott Baldwin, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Bradley Davies 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Anscombe.