Mike Brown: Not one Welshman would make the England XV
After Six Nations opening-round losses, both England and Wales course-corrected against Italy and Scotland respectively in Round 2, and now face a crunch showdown in Twickenham in front of 82,000 fans.
However, Brown doesn’t appear to expect the game to be close, at least not if you look at the personnel involved. The Newcastle Falcons back says that unlike Wales’ teams of the Warren Gatland era, just one or two of the men in red could make an argument for inclusion in a combined team.
“One of my memories of playing against Wales is the ‘combined XV’ articles that would always be churned out on the week of the game,” wrote Brown. “They would cherry-pick the best players from both sides. During the Warren Gatland era, it would always be a pretty even split of English and Welsh.
“Based on what I’ve seen of Wales in the opening two rounds, they don’t have a single player who would get into the England XV right now. Josh Adams has the strongest case, but only because England have been playing a centre and full-back on the wings. People will say ‘what about Louis Rees-Zammit?’ but I would rather have Adam Radwan if you want speed.
“This Wales team isn’t anywhere near the quality of some of their recent line-ups and England should beat them comfortably at Twickenham. If Joe Launchbury comes back at lock with Courtney Lawes on the flank, I can’t see Wales matching their physicality in the pack.
“If England can play with tempo and move the ball to the wide channels, they should cause all manner of problems. Manu Tuilagi is back and that makes England a different beast. It could be close to their best back-line.”
Brown is in a good position to talk about Wales, enjoying many a heated battle with the Welsh over the course of his 72 England caps.
“Wales is the game that you always want to win. The rivalry is massive and you get absolutely hammered if you lose.”
If nothing else, Brown has certainly given Pivac something to tape to the changing room wall on matchday.
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