Jonathan Thomas: Wales must 'kill the king' and stop Billy Vunipola
By Tony Tighe
Last Updated: 03/03/16 5:59pm
Jonathan Thomas says England's crucial Six Nations clash with Wales will be their "first major test" under head coach Eddie Jones.
England are two victories away from their first Grand Slam since 2003 but a Wales win at Twickenham would put them on course for their third Championship in five years.
Wales were 28-25 victors when the sides last met at the Rugby World Cup and Thomas is "quietly confident" they can repeat the trick on March 12.
The former Wales international told Rugby Club Agenda: "Wales never won at Twickenham during the 1990s and early 2000s but the psychology behind going to Twickenham has changed. Wales have won there three or four times in the last seven years.
"Warren Gatland has also won there a lot with Wasps. He often mentions how he has a great record at Twickenham. He will be pulling psychological strings this week. He's a master at reminding players what they did last time they played there.
"Having said that, this is a different, confident England and I really like what Eddie Jones is doing. The big question is will England be good enough to win this game at this moment. In terms of looking ahead to the next four years, I think England are going to be a massive force in [the next] World Cup.
"It's going to be a massive game, one that is won on fine margins."
The battle between No 8s, and cousins, Billy Vunipola and Taulupe Faletau is one contest Thomas is particularly looking forward to.
Vunipola's ball-carrying caused Ireland major problems last weekend and Thomas says Wales must "kill the king" if they are to claim victory.
"The Welsh defensive policy never changes but what does change, and this is what Shaun Edwards is a master at, he gives the players headline messages every week.
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"What is the major strength of this team we are playing against? If it is Ireland it may be the aerial battle. This week it will be the power of Vunipola.
"Edwards will be speaking to the back-row about double tackles, one going high and the other low.
"There's a saying in coaching: kill the king. At the moment England's king is Vunipola. Edwards will be saying if they stop him, they stop England. That will be the big mindset."