Six Nations: George North added to squad as Wales head for Twickenham

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The Wales head coach has retained his starting line-up that accounted for Scotland 34-7 three days ago.

Gatland’s only switch is among the replacements, where fit-again Northampton wing George North takes over from Owen Watkin.

North, who has twice been sidelined by knee injuries this season, last played for Wales when they lost to France in the final match of last season’s tournament.

But he has scored 30 tries in 69 Wales appearances and is a proven performer at the highest level.

North’s fellow British and Irish Lion Liam Williams, who was due to resume full training with the Wales squad on Monday following an abdominal injury, is not involved.

Scott Williams scored the winning try the last time

Scott Williams scored the winning try the last time England lost a Six Nations match at Twickenham.

North made a try-scoring return for his club in their Anglo-Welsh Cup victory over Harlequins last Friday, but Gatland has opted to retain starting wings Josh Adams, who wins his second cap, and Steff Evans.

Gatland said: “It’s great to name an unchanged starting XV.

“The players deserve that for a very good performance on the opening weekend.

“We have made one change on the bench, with George coming in for Owen (Watkin), which is tough on Owen but Josh (Adams) picked up a slight strain last weekend, so George provides us a bit more cover there.

“We know how tough it is going to be against that huge English forward pack. They are really going to test us.

“England have been in great form the last couple of years, so we know the challenge we face, but we have had a good couple of weeks in camp and we are looking forward to going up to Twickenham.”

Wales were the last team to beat England in a Six Nations Test match at Twickenham, winning 19-12 six years ago when centre Scott Williams scored a try five minutes from time.

Since then, England have reeled off 14 successive home victories in the tournament, while they are also chasing an unprecedented hat-trick of Six Nations titles this term.

Wales: L Halfpenny (Scarlets); J Adams (Worcester), S Williams (Scarlets), H Parkes (Scarlets), S Evans (Scarlets); R Patchell (Scarlets), G Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), S Lee (Scarlets), C Hill (Dragons), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), R Moriarty (Gloucester).
Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), W Jones (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), B Davies (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), A Davies (Scarlets), G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), G North (Northampton).

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Wales coach Warren Gatland names unchanged team to face England

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Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named an unchanged team for Saturday’s NatWest 6 Nations clash against England at Twickenham.

His only switch is on the replacements’ bench, where fit-again Northampton wing George North takes over from Owen Watkin.

North, who has twice been sidelined by knee injuries this season, last played for Wales when they lost to France in the final match of last season’s tournament.

He has scored 30 tries in 69 Wales appearances and is a proven performer at the highest level.

Wales team: Halfpenny (Scarlets); Adams (Worcester), S Williams (Scarlets), Parkes (Scarlets), S Evans (Scarlets); Patchell (Scarlets), G Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), Owens (Scarlets), Lee (Scarlets), Hill (Dragons), AW Jones (Ospreys capt), Shingler (Scarlets), Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Moriarty (Gloucester).

Replacements: Dee (Dragons), W Jones (Scarlets), Francis (Exeter Chiefs), B Davies (Ospreys), Tipuric (Ospreys), A Davies (Scarlets), Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), North (Northampton).

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Six Nations: Eddie Jones says Owen Farrell and George Ford's vision allows England to flourish

Alex Broun 6/02/2018
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Eddie Jones insists the vision of Owen Farrell and George Ford acts as the catalyst for England’s “collective talent” to flourish.

Farrell and Ford were the ringmasters of Sunday’s seven-try Six Nations rout of Italy in Rome, the twin playmakers combining to unpick the defence with crisp passing and clinically-executed moves.

While Jones claims the make-up of his midfield remains open to revision, he believes the basis for English success is operating as a team that is greater than the sum of his parts.

George Ford on the way to scoring his sides fifth try against Italy.

George Ford on the way to scoring his sides fifth try against Italy.

“We don’t have a lot of big carriers so we’ve got to be inventive in how we play,” head coach Jones said.

“The pleasing thing against Italy was that we invented stuff that gave us momentum. George and Owen together, they see the game better than anyone.

“I still don’t know if my view of those two has changed. The best option may be Ford and Ben Te’o, the best option might be Farrell and Ben Te’o, or we might want Alex Lozowski in there.

“We’re not sure but we keep looking and George and Owen together give us plenty of options.

“They’re getting a great understanding together on how to play and use their collective talent. Those are key words for us because our game is based on collective talent.

“We don’t have a lot of guys individually who can run through brick walls, so we’ve got to do it through collective talent.”

Jones was delighted by the dominance of his scrum in the successful start to their title defence at the Stadio Olimpico, describing it as the best set-piece performance of his reign and adding “that’s English rugby”.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 18: (L-R) Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Neal Hatley, the scrum coach and Mako Vunipola of England celebrate after their victory during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and England at AAMI Park on June 18, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England scrum coach Neal Hatley (second from R) with (L-R) Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley and Mako Vunipola.

The Australian credits scrum coach Neal Hatley and the leftfield contribution of consultant Marc dal Maso for the improvements made.

“It did well because of great work done by Neal Hatley and also great physical development by the players. They’ve got stronger and are more flexible so we can scrum lower,” Jones said.

“It’s because of a combination of the players and coaches working together. We’ve obviously prioritised it.

“Del Maso has floated in. He’s a crazy scientist who has got the perfect picture of a scrum in his head.

“I’ve never met a bloke like him. He brings something different because he’s got so many unusual thoughts.

“He might bring six things forward and one of them will be absolutely brilliant. It’s a great resource for us to have him there.

“He floats in, floats out, brings one or two ideas and we work out whether it’s good for us to do it.”

England face a six-day turnaround before Saturday’s clash with Wales at Twickenham, scheduling that hinders the champions in the view of Warren Gatland who insists it “makes a big difference”.

But Jones said: “We’ll adapt to it. We’re going to ride a slightly different pattern that I’ve found successful in the past to get teams to recover and by Saturday
we’ll be flying.”

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