No Sam Warburton, no Taulupe Faletau. Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar, they’re missing too, as is Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams. That’s six British and Irish Lions players unavailable for Wales Rugby through injury, and even George North is only fit enough for a place among the replacements.
Perhaps it’s testament to the number of exceptional players that Wales have produced of late that Warren Gatland has still named four Lions in his starting XV with captain Alun Wyn Jones joined by Ken Owens, Ross Moriarty and Leigh Halfpenny – himself a doubt due to illness – but without six certain starters, surely Wales can’t repeat their incredible Rugby World Cup victory over England at Twickenham of three years ago?
On that occasion, a depleted Wales finished the match with a disjointed back line that featured Saturday’s starting scrum-half, Gareth Davis, on the wing. It was Davies that scored the match-winning try, and in effect triggered the decisive defeat that cost Stuart Lancaster his job – one the defeat by Australia confirmed England’s exit – brought the arrival of Eddie Jones and started England’s most dominant run of results in their history.
Six Nations team of the weekend
The way that the Wales camp have spoken this week though and the way that they dispatched Scotland so comfortably last week, you get the impression that they truly believe that they can repeat that victory at the home of English rugby.
Jones though has no such ideas.
“I think they [Wales] played well, and they are definitely confident and cocky. They definitely believe in the way they are playing, but it will be different on Saturday in front of 82,000 people at Twickenham. Those 82,000 have been great supporters for us in the past and will be great for us on Saturday.
“We are hoping that those 82,000 people have the best prevention that they can as supporters – they will make a hell of a difference. And young guys like [Rhys]…