Eddie Jones Names Inexperienced Back Row For Wales Six Nations Clash
It's not like England have many friends when it comes to the Six Nations but on Saturday they step into the Principality Stadium in Cardiff for potentially their most heated rivalry. And they'll be doing so with a hugely inexperienced back-row.
England kicked off their Six Nations campaign last week against France at Twickenham and came through by the narrowest of margins. In the most unconvincing performance of Jones' tenure as head coach the Red Rose won 19-16 thanks to sub Ben Te'o's late try.
This weekend it's their first away trip of the tournament and they travel to the very noisy Principality, scene of one of their most crushing defeats in the Stuart Lancaster era (before the disastrous World Cup of course).
England have been beset by injuries for most of the season and a knock to Tom Wood means the flanker will not start against Wales and instead Jack Clifford will get only his second start. Along with Maro Itoje and Nathan Hughes that is only four back row starts across the three of them.
Wood is fit enough to take a place on the bench so doesn't miss out completely whilst James Haskell, the other option to replace Wood, is still not seen as match fit enough to start.
The only other change in the starting line up from the France game is on the wing. Jack Nowell, who was injured in the Autumn, makes his comeback in the starting line up with Jonny May dropping to the bench.
Should Taulupe Faletau recover from a knee injury, as is expected, then Wales back row could be 37 times more experienced than their counterparts with Faletau, Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric boasting 147 international starts, and all have Lions experience.
Eddie Jones talked about his team's 'fear' of playing in Wales and whilst there's no doubt that the atmosphere is not an easy one to step into the reigning Six Nations champions did win their last time the pair met in the Welsh capital.
There's no doubt that England will need to improve from their match against France and with such an inexperienced back row it won't be easy.
Can Wales finally bring an end to England's record breaking winning run?