Guinness Six Nations: England v Wales
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 10 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live from 16:45, BBC Radio Wales & Radio Cymru; text commentary on BBC Sport website and app; Watch on ITV1 & S4C
England will seek back-to-back Six Nations wins when they take on old rivals Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.
England, who beat Italy last weekend, return to headquarters for the first time since they were booed during a shock World Cup warm-up loss to Fiji.
They staged an incredible comeback from 27-0 down but Scotland held on to win.
Gatland’s team now travel to England in search of a first Six Nations victory at Twickenham since 2012.
England’s performance was encouraging but there were teething issues as they attempted to implement a new expansive attack and a blitz-style defence.
Captain Jamie George was resolute in his belief when asked if his side can challenge for the title.
“Absolutely,” the hooker said. “I don’t want anyone to be involved in this squad if they don’t genuinely believe that we can go and challenge the best and win this tournament.”
In the sole change to the squad from the win in Italy, head coach Steve Borthwick has brought back vice-captain Ellis Genge after injury to make the bench in place of Beno Obano.
Wales: Centre George North will make his 50th Six Nations appearance, having recovered from a shoulder injury in one of seven changes to the starting XV that lost to Scotland. Ioan Lloyd and Tomos Williams come in at half-back after impressing off the bench in that match.
In the forwards, flanker Alex Mann is also promoted from the replacements with James Botham ruled out, while the entire starting front-row changes, with Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee and Keiron Assiratti coming in.
There are widespread changes on the bench with uncapped prop Archie Griffin, Taine Basham, Will Rowlands, Cai Evans and Kieran Hardy all brought into the matchday 23.
Alastair Eykyn: Six Nations clashes between England and Wales always stir the blood, and that’s exactly what Steve Borthwick’s side are promising to do on their return to Twickenham.
Their Roman adventure was a subdued affair last week, leaving as many questions as answers, on both sides of the ball. The Welsh are even harder to fathom. In Cardiff they were horrible one minute, sensational the next.
Seven changes of starting personnel later, Warren Gatland’s urging them to play with the second-half tempo that so nearly unseated the Scots. Throw in a visceral rivalry and a chequered social history and you have a heady sporting cocktail.
View from both camps
England head coach Steve Borthwick: “With a new player group and a number of new caps, we have tried to develop our game on both sides of the ball.
“Such changes take time and I was pleased how quickly the players settled and adapted last weekend against Italy.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland: “We’ve been critical and tough on ourselves. That first half last week was nowhere near the standards we expect. We simply cannot start the same way this Saturday.
“We showed in the second half against Scotland what we are capable of. Now it’s about building on that performance and playing with some tempo from the off. We need to be accurate and keep our discipline.”
England: 15-Steward, 14-Freeman, 13-Slade, 12-Dingwall, 11-Daly, 10-Ford, 9-Mitchell; 1-Stuart, 2-Marler, 3-George (capt), 4-Itoje, 5-Chessum, 6-Roots, 7-Underhill, 8-Earl
Replacements: 16-Dan, 17-Genge, 18-Cole, 19-Coles, 20-Cunningham-South, 21-Care, 22-Smith, 23-Feyi-Waboso
Wales: 15-Winnett; 14-Adams, 13-North, 12-Tompkins, 11-Dyer; 10-Lloyd, 9-Williams; 1-Thomas, 2-Dee, 3-Assiratti, 4-Jenkins (capt), 5-Beard, 6-Mann, 7-Reffell, 8-Wainwright
Replacements: 16-Elias, 17-Domachowski, 18-Griffin, 19-Rowlands, 20-Basham, 21-Hardy, 22-Evans, 23-Grady
Six Nations standings
Defending champions Ireland lead the way after their bonus-point win over France, with England and Scotland the other teams to have recorded victories so far. Wales did secure two bonus points in their loss to Scotland.
- Wales have lost their past five Six Nations matches away against England.
- Their most recent win in England came in the pool stage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
- Wales are the only side England have not trailed to at half-time of a Six Nations match at Twickenham.
- They have not lost a round two fixture after winning their opening match since 2009, when they were beaten by Wales after an opening victory against Italy.
- England’s five debutants against Italy was their most in a Six Nations game since seven players won their first cap versus Scotland in 2012.
- The Red Rose topped the rankings in round one for defenders beaten (25), while they were second for opposition 22 entries (nine). However, they scored the joint-fewest tries (two) and recorded the lowest points per 22 entry (two) of any team.
- Wales have won one and lost eight of their last nine Six Nations matches.
- Only France in 2006, Wales in 2013 and England four years ago have lost their opening Six Nations game and gone on to win the title.
- Wales conceded just four penalties versus Scotland, their fewest in a Six Nations fixture since they also conceded four against England in 2019.
- George North joins compatriots Stephen Jones, Gethin Jenkins and Alun Wyn Jones in winning 50 Six Nations caps. He’s three tries away from equalling Brian O’Driscoll’s Six Nations record of 26.
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) & Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)