Wales not engaging in verbal battle with England ahead of Six Nations clash

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Wales have steered clear of any verbal sparring match with England boss Eddie Jones prior to Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations showdown.

Jones has ignited the build-up to an inevitably high-octane Twickenham occasion, highlighting what he sees as Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell’s Test match inexperience and labelling him as Wales’ “third-choice 10”.

He claimed Scarlets star Patchell will be “under some heat” this weekend when Wales target a first Twickenham Six Nations win against England since 2012.

Eddie Jones expects Rhys Patchell, pictured, to have a tough afternoon against England
Eddie Jones expects Rhys Patchell, pictured, to have a tough afternoon against England (Nigel French/PA)

Reflecting on Wales’ 34-7 thumping of Scotland last weekend, Jones said: “Wales played really well against Scotland, but it’s going to be different on Saturday – they had no expectation on them last Saturday, but this week they come full of expectation.

“Everyone has been telling them how well they played. (Wales coach) Warren Gatland’s been talking a lot this week. He’s confident. They’re confident.”

Wales, though, left for their Surrey base on Thursday having not engaged in verbal jousting.

“I don’t know what Eddie has said, but any player wearing the number 10 jersey is going to be put under pressure,” Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde said. “There’s nothing different there.

Eddie Jones opened the verbal jousting with Wales on Thursday
Eddie Jones opened the verbal jousting with Wales on Thursday (Adam Davy/PA)

“He (Patchell) is surrounded by a number of players from his (Scarlets) region and that cohesion it brings, that familiarity, will hopefully stand up under the pressure of international rugby. As we saw last Saturday, it was good to watch.

“I am not going to try (to respond) with Eddie. I know better! He’s got a few things to get off his chest, and hopefully he’ll feel better for it.”

Asked if there was a message for Jones, McBryde added: “I’m going to stay out of it. I can’t win that one.”

Wales have beaten England three times at Twickenham since Warren Gatland became head coach 10 years ago, and they were the last team to topple them there in a Six Nations fixture six years ago.

Scott Williams scored a stunning try the last time Wales beat England, in 2012
Scott Williams scored a stunning try the last time Wales beat England at Twickenham, in 2012 (David Jones/PA)

“For the players involved, they can draw on those experiences and look back on why they won,” McBryde said. “From a team point of view, I don’t think it stands for a lot. England are a bit different, Wales are a bit different, and rugby is now different, certainly with some new laws and a new emphasis on certain aspects of play.

“The game changes pretty quickly and we know momentum is pretty important. We will be aiming to start well and take it from there.

“Eddie has said he is going to put us under pressure, but the same goes for us.

“Shaun Edwards (McBryde’s fellow Wales assistant) will be banging the drum in terms of putting them under pressure. When the stakes are high, there is no quarter asked and none given. That’s what it will be on Saturday.”

Robin McBryde
Robin McBryde has urges Wales’ front row to show their maturity (Ben Birchall/PA)

The set-piece will be a critical area in terms of the overall contest, with scrummaging supremacy vital to both teams’ victory aspirations.

“At the end of the day, we are there to do a job,” McBryde said. “We know they are going to come after us at the set-piece, and I think we’ll stand up to it and hopefully repay the compliment.

“I think we have been very legal with the way we have gone about the scrum in recent years.

“I know that there is a reputation we have built for ourselves, and a maturity about our front-row players, too.”

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