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Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage

The best single unit in the Wales side is the formidable back row.

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The nine pre-RWC matches the new England coach has to turn team around

By PA
Owen Farrell (Photo by Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England’s new coach will have five competitive Tests until the World Cup to reverse the team’s fortunes with the Six Nations getting underway in February.

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Beyond the Championship are four warm-up games that will provide opportunities to finalise selection and develop match fitness.

Here the PA news agency looks at the fixtures in store for 2023 before the World Cup opens against Argentina on September 9.

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England v Scotland, Twickenham, February 4

Scotland are unpredictable but have lost only one of their last five meetings with England and triumphed at Twickenham in 2021, their first success in London since 1983.

England v Italy, Twickenham, February 12

Italy are showing genuine signs of improvement having won their last two outings against tier one opposition, beating Wales and Australia.

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Wales v England, Principality Stadium, February 25

A fascinating contest with Warren Gatland plotting England’s downfall for the first time since beginning his second spell as Wales boss.

England v France, Twickenham, March 11

The first of successive heavyweight clashes, France are the World Cup hosts and favourites having progressed through 2022 with a perfect record.

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Ireland v England, Aviva Stadium, March 18

The world’s number one ranked side will be formidable opponents in Dublin, but they have a habit of imploding in World Cup years.

World Cup warm-ups starting against Wales, Principality Stadium, August 5

Although given Test match status, these matches are friendlies with coaches looking to put the finishing touches to selection for their World Cup squads, develop tactics for the tournament and give players time on the field. Two clashes with Wales, Ireland and Fiji are the line-up for August..

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