As Saturday afternoon in Cardiff approaches, Eddie Jones has admitted he is “massively excited” as the only two unbeaten sides in the 2019 Guinness 6 Nations Championship go head to head.
Jones has made just two changes to the side that beat France following injuries to Mako Vunipola and Chris Ashton. One of those sees Ben Moon starting at loosehead prop with Ellis Genge down as one of Jones’ finishers.
“We think that Ben is best starting and Ellis is best finishing for us. That suits their skill sets. Ben’s more of a defensive player whereas Genge is more of an attacking player,” Jones explained “He could end up being potentially one of the best ball carriers in the front row in the world. So, he’s got a lot of potential but Moon’s a tough, strong player so that combination will work well for us.”
On Genge, Jones continued, “For a prop, he’s got enormous acceleration, he’s got power. He used to play No.8 and wing, there aren’t too many props in the world that can run like that and he’s also got a good sense of attack.”
England’s midfield remains the same with Tuilagi alongside Slade, continuing their development as a centre pairing which Jones appreciates.
He said, “It’s good to have that consistency. We’ve been lucky to be able to pick a settled 9-10-12-13 but we’ve got Benny Te’o back now fit. He probably would have played in the first 6 Nations game so now that he’s fit, he’s going to challenge those two guys.”
Jones replied, “The only thing I’m concerned about is Saturday’s game so that’s what I’m here to talk about.”
Having declared that the media have been hyping Wales as the “greatest team ever”, Jones was in typically devious form but when asked about Warren Gatland, a man it’s rumoured could be in line to take over from Jones after the Rugby World Cup, the England head coach was more considered.
Jones said, “We’ve coached against each other for a number of years. I respect his coaching ability, he’s got great results. He’s probably been the most influential coach in European rugby over the last fifteen years. His record’s second to none, he’s done a great job with the Lions. I enjoy the challenge of coaching against his teams.”
So will the tag of ‘Gatland’s last stand against England’ motivate Wales’ players to find an extra level against England? Jones said, “That can work in two ways. That can either be a burden or it can be an extra motivation. For us it’s our next game so it’s our most important game.”
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