Wales vs England: Six Nations talking points ahead of Saturday's Test
Wales welcome England to the Principality Stadium on Saturday at 4.45pm
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 23/02/19 4:21pm
Wales welcome England to Cardiff for Round 3 of the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday (kick-off 4.45pm) - here we look at some of the key talking points ahead of this hotly-anticipated match.
Clashes between these two sides hardly need any introduction...the rivalry is as intense as it comes and the passion of both sets of fans makes it an electric event in the Six Nations calendar.
From the availability (or not) of key players to telling words and Welsh records, there's so much to look at before Saturday's clash at the Principality Stadium...
"Greatest Welsh side ever"
Over the past few years, Test weeks between England and Wales have always been enjoyable affairs... not only because of the intense rivalry between the nations but because of the interaction between the two head coaches.
When it comes to pre-match 'chat', Eddie Jones and Warren Gatland are seasoned professionals. Both know exactly what they're doing and both know which buttons they want to push and when.
This time around Jones was quickest off the mark as he used his post-match press conference against France to signal the fact that England are preparing to face the "greatest Welsh side ever".
Hand on heart, does Jones believe this the case? Maybe... maybe not.
Regardless it's been a major talking point from the moment he said it and Wales' players won't have been able to get away from it.
Instead, the squad will have had to spent time answering questions about it and had to expend a little extra energy trying to ignore it.
Will Jones' words impact on Wales' preparations and performance? Perhaps... perhaps not.
But, if it disrupts the thinking of just one individual for a moment or two on Saturday then many will feel Jones will have done his job.
Nowell gets the nod
The England back-three appeared to do almost nothing wrong last time out against France - indeed quite the opposite: they tore Les Bleus apart with accurate kicking, lethal finishing and general intelligence around the park.
But Jones has been forced into tinkering with his team in this area as Exeter's Jack Nowell comes in to replace Sale Sharks' Chris Ashton on the wing - a calf injury keeping Ashton out.
Nowell will look to dovetail as effectively with Elliot Daly and Jonny May as Ashton did last week, while the considerable presence of Bath's Joe Cokanasiga provides bench cover - what an option to have to call upon.
Elsewhere, Exeter's Ben Moon has been handed the task of filling the pretty influential boots of Mako Vunipola - the Saracen is out with an ankle injury. Scrum time for Moon against his club team-mate Tomas Francis should prove interesting!
A Welsh record on the line
Wales' win in Rome in Round 2 saw them equal their all-time winning sequence of 11 Tests set between 1907 and 1910 - one more W and this group of players will create a legacy and write new sporting history.
Gatland admitted they will "probably talk about it" before the match and went on to say that if his players create a record, it will be something that "nobody can take away from them."
The ability to create history is one thing, the ability to create history by beating the side you consider to be one of your greatest rivals is a whole different ball game. And, every member of Wales' squad will be striving to finish the 80 minutes with the level of euphoria that's reserved for moments like that.
The Principality Stadium is always a cauldron and if it's possible, the home fans will bring a little bit extra, safe in the knowledge they could be there for a significant moment in Welsh sporting history.
Can Anscombe and Davies combine to run the game?
A key point of selection concern for Wales heading into both this Test specifically and the Six Nations in general has been the their half-backs.
For so long, Ospreys pair Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb were the number one choices, but Gareth Anscombe wrestled the 10 shirt his way in November and Webb departed to Toulon, meaning he is ineligible.
A Gareth Davies injury saw Tomos Williams start in Paris alongside Anscombe, but the two struggled to click for large periods of the game. Dan Biggar emerged to have an impact on the Test, but the now Northampton Saint didn't perform as well out in Italy in Round 2.
A Tomos Williams injury sees Gareth Davies come back in to face England, while Anscombe has been restored at 10.
Will they be able to dictate play enough for Wales to get on top against an ultra-physical England side?
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Cory Hill, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones (captain), 6 Josh Navidi, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Owen Watkin.
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Ben Moon, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Courtney Lawes, 5 George Kruis, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Brad Shields, 21 Dan Robson, 22 George Ford, 23 Joe Cokanasiga.