'You've always got those mind games from Genge. Jonny Hill told me'
Wales prop Tomas Francis is ready to ignore Ellis Genge’s “mind games” in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against England. The pair are set for a head-to-head scrummaging battle after both countries revived title aspirations with victories last time out, with England beating Italy and Wales toppling Scotland.
Francis is among only a handful of the current squad to have won with Wales at Twickenham, collecting his fourth cap during a memorable 2015 World Cup pool stage encounter. England prop and Leicester captain Genge is a no-nonsense operator and a pivotal member of Eddie Jones’ pack.
Asked what he was expecting from Genge and his fellow England loosehead Joe Marler, Francis, the Wales and former Exeter forward, said: “From Genge, you have always got those mind games. He likes to try and get into you that way. I try not to engage in it.
“It’s just part of his game. It’s something (England and Exeter lock) Jonny Hill told me once. I just focus on me being me and him being him, to be honest. He has got that leadership role at Leicester, and he seems to be thriving in that. His performances on the pitch have grown as well. He has become a world-class loosehead over the years and he is doing well.
“Marler has had a resurgence and he is also playing well. Whoever is there is going to be a big challenge, and they are a tough pack to go up against. Whoever plays for Wales has got to have that mindset that you are going to go out there and dominate – at least parity, but try and dominate and give a good platform for the backs. England will be a great test, they have got some great forwards and we hopefully can come on top. We’ll give it our all.”
Behind the scrum, England are set to be bolstered by centre Manu Tuilagi’s return after injury, while gifted fly-half Marcus Smith opposes Wales for the first time. Wales assistant coach and skills specialist Neil Jenkins has worked with both players on British and Irish Lions tours and is in no doubt about their qualities. “Manu is a class player. He is going to make any side stronger, there is no doubting that,” Jenkins said.
“He has been a little bit unlucky with injuries, but he is a big-game player. He is a big threat, he is very physical and he is a good attacking player. He will make them stronger if he is involved on Saturday.
“Marcus is a fantastic talent, a fantastic player whose all-round game is exceptional. He is a young kid, but he plays as if he has been around for ten-15 years. He is a class act, and he will be a threat to us on Saturday. He certainly doesn’t lack confidence, but he backs that up with talent. He is very grounded, and a fantastic kid to be around.”
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac will name his team on Thursday, with his biggest decisions set to revolve around midfield and whether he fields fit-again number eight Taulupe Faletau, who was called into the squad this week. Backs Josh Adams and Uilisi Halaholo, meanwhile, are both available after missing the Scotland game through injury.
Wales have not won a Six Nations game at Twickenham since centre Scott Williams’ breakaway try secured a 19-12 success ten years ago. Jenkins added: “We haven’t won there since the 2015 World Cup, so that says it all. They are a very good side and a very impressive side at home. You have to play well – it is plain and simple. There is no easy way about it.
“I’ve been there with good sides in the past, and we have come away with nothing. You have to be incredibly physical, you have to be incredibly disciplined and you have to take your chances when they come. We need to be ready mentally and physically because it is going to be a tough afternoon.”
Join free and tell us what you really think!Join Free