Eddie Jones tells England to target Rhys Patchell ahead of Wales clash

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Eddie Jones has ignited the build-up to England’s Six Nations clash with Wales by thrusting Rhys Patchell under the spotlight.

Jones has piled the pressure on the inexperienced 24-year-old Welsh fly-half, who will be winning just his seventh cap in the absence of injured playmakers Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland.

Scarlets 10 Patchell was hugely influential in last weekend’s 34-7 rout of Scotland in Cardiff, but injury-hit Wales were widely written off leading into that match and Jones insists England at Twickenham are a different proposition.

“Every time Rhys Patchell looks up, he’s going to see Jonathan Joseph in his vision – it’s not a great sight,” Jones said.

“Wales have to get the ball wide and Patchell hasn’t played much Test match rugby. He’s a young guy, he’s inexperienced and is their third-choice 10.

“He’s got to get the ball wide and that’s going to be a big job. It will be different to playing against Scotland. Scotland couldn’t cope with the expectation and now he’s got to cope with the expectation of playing well.

Wales' fly-half Rhys Patchell throws a ball during training.

Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell during Wales training.

“Patchell will have to find guys around him to help because he’ll be under some heat.

“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.”

It is the first time Jones has sought to engage Wales in verbal hostilities ahead of the eagerly awaited showdown between rivals who completed convincing victories in round one.

Gatland stated earlier in the week that England’s six-day turnaround following their 46-15 demolition of Italy would count against them, but Jones used Thursday’s team announcement to hit back.

“I can remember 18 or 24 months ago someone at the Rugby Football Union, whose name I don’t recollect at the moment, coming in and saying, ‘You play Italy on Sunday and Wales on Saturday, is that OK?’,” Jones said.

“No problem, that’s the draw, that’s how we prepare for it. So we’ve had 18 months to prepare for this turnaround.

“Is that difficult? It’s difficult, it’s difficult if you haven’t used your 18 months well. We’ve used our 18 months well. We’ve had a great preparation.”

George Ford on the way to scoring his side's fifth try against Italy.

George Ford on the way to scoring his side’s fifth try against Italy.

England have made two changes to their starting XV against Wales, with Joseph replacing Ben Te’o at outside centre and Danny Care coming in for the injured Ben Youngs at scrum-half.

Te’o impressed with his powerful carrying against Italy but faded in his first appearance since recovering from ankle surgery last October, and Jones has opted for the slick footwork, defensive expertise and experience of Joseph in his place.

“It’s just my gut feeling with Joseph,” Jones said. “I feel he will start the game well against Wales. Jonathan’s got great experience, he’s fast, a great defensive player.

“We were very happy with Te’o last week, but it’s also his second game back and, in my experience with players in their second game back from a long injury, it’s always the most difficult game.”

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Six Nations: Jonathan Joseph and Danny Care the only changes in England starting XV

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Danny Care will deputise for Ben Youngs against Wales on Saturday

England have brought in Jonathan Joseph for Ben Te’o in one of two changes for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales.

Joseph starts at outside centre after making an impact off the bench in last weekend’s 46-15 victory over Italy in Rome, with Te’o demoted to a replacement role for the round-two match at Twickenham.

The second change sees Danny Care become England’s most capped scrum-half, edging past the milestone of 77 held by Matt Dawson, after he was chosen to replace knee-injury victim Ben Youngs in the number nine jersey.

Richard Wigglesworth has been drafted straight on to the bench, having been called up as cover after Eddie Jones’ first choice in the position ruptured his medial collateral ligament at the Stadio Olimpico.

“Danny Care very much deserves the honour of being the most capped England scrum-half and I am sure he’ll make the most of his opportunity on Saturday,” Jones said.

“We want to make sure our set-piece is dominant, our defence is ferocious and that we are at our best against Wales.”

The selection of Joseph over Te’o was predicted by Wales coach Warren Gatland earlier this week and sees England restored to their strongest available starting XV.

Te’o impressed with his powerful carrying against Italy but faded in his first appearance since recovering from ankle surgery in mid-June and Jones has opted for the greater experience and slick footwork of Joseph in his place.

Apart from the presence of Te’o and Wigglesworth, the bench remains unchanged.

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Six Nations: Scotland make six changes ahead of France clash

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Greig Laidlaw will start at scrum-half for Scotland against France

Gregor Townsend has responded to last weekend’s thrashing at the hands of Wales by making six changes to his Scotland line-up ahead of facing France on Sunday.

The Dark Blues had hopes of making a NatWest 6 Nations title bid this season but got off a dismal start with a 34-7 defeat in Cardiff.

Now Townsend hopes he will get a response after recalling former skipper Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half as well as centre Peter Horne, wing Sean Maitland, prop Simon Berghan, lock Grant Gilchrist and number eight Ryan Wilson.

Ali Price – whose intercepted pass handed Gareth Davies the crucial opening score at the Principality Stadium – makes way for Laidlaw as he is joined on the bench by last week’s starters Jon Welsh, Ben Toolis and
Chris Harris. Cornell du Preez and the injured Byron McGuigan drop out of the 23-man squad.

Townsend said: “As a group we’re delighted to be playing at home in front of another sell-out crowd at BT Murrayfield and are looking forward to putting in a performance that can energise our supporters.

“To do that we need to out-work the opposition and be more accurate in a number of aspects of our play.

“We’ve seen a response from the players in training this week and that needs to continue into and through the 80-plus minutes of the match because France will pose a massive and immensely-physical challenge.”

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