Fit-again England duo Mark Wilson and Anthony Watson will make their first appearance of the Six Nations against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday.

Wilson replaces the injured Sam Underhill at openside flanker after recovering from a knee problem.

Watson is back on the wing at the expense of Bath team-mate Jonathan Joseph following a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury.

They are the only changes to the XV that started a 24-12 victory over Ireland last time out, as the Rugby World Cup runners-up eye a victory over the defending champions to put the pressure on leaders France.

Eddie Jones named his team on Thursday as the RFU waited to discover whether the final-round match against Italy in Rome on March 14 will be postponed due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Jones said: "We've had a really good two week preparation – a fallow week in Oxford where we had good training days last Thursday and Friday and three good training days this week culminating in a very good session Wednesday.

"Wales are a very tough, well-coached side and they've been building on their attack since Wayne Pivac has taken over.

"It's always a tough game against Wales and we know they will bring that toughness to all the contest areas. We're looking forward to playing at home again and getting back out in front of our fantastic fans."

 

England: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade.

Martin Johnson believes finding consistency of performance is key for England as they aim to keep their Six Nations hopes alive against a Wales team he feels are "not that far away" despite back-to-back defeats.

England welcome Wales to Twickenham on Saturday knowing they cannot afford to suffer their second loss of the tournament, with unbeaten France taking on Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Eddie Jones' men have recovered from a disappointing opening defeat to France with successive victories over Scotland and Ireland.

The 2019 World Cup finalists were vastly improved against Ireland and led 17-0 at half-time before closing out a 24-12 win.

A similar showing will likely be required against Wales, whose results do not necessarily reflect their performances, according to England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain and former head coach.

"I think the big thing for England as a team is just that consistency of performance," Land Rover ambassador Johnson told Stats Perform.

"That was Eddie's statement at the start of the tournament, the best teams when you look back over history they didn't play that badly.

"They might have got beaten but they didn't beat themselves, they were very, very difficult to beat. To beat them you had to play bloody well. There's no-one quite like that in the tournament at the moment."

As for Wales, who nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback from 27-16 down in their 27-24 loss to France last time out, Johnson said: "Wales played to the last second, on another day they come back and win that game, which I thought they still would do with about 20 minutes to go.

"They're not that far away, in saying that they've got a couple of defeats. When you saw the sort of cold stats of them losing to Ireland you thought, 'Wow that's a bit of a hiding', but it wasn't really, they didn't play that badly, they had their opportunities.

"It's pretty close, that's the good thing about the tournament, it's pretty tight and you've just got to go and win your games. Hopefully England-Wales is a classic, I hope it's a classic really ferocious, energetic, fast game and both teams really get into it and there's a good ebb and flow of the game, scores from both teams and ultimately England win.

"If Wales can win it, it can put their second half of a tournament in a better perspective. A win at Twickenham for anyone is a good victory and England will be desperate not to lose at home and to win the game because they've still got a sniff of the title if Scotland can do everyone a favour."

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar is expected to be fit to face England despite suffering a knee injury while playing for Northampton Saints against Saracens.

However, Wayne Pivac's men are without wing Josh Adams for the rest of tournament because of an ankle injury.

Wales will be looking to avoid a third straight defeat and, asked if they can be considered vulnerable, Johnson said: "It depends how they react to it [the defeat against France]. If they come out at Twickenham thinking, 'We've got players injured and we're this and we're that and we can't win the title', then you'll probably get beat.

"If you go out thinking, 'We've got 15, they've got 15, let's put them under pressure', then you'll have a chance. It's all about how they approach it, what their attitude is to it.

"The same with England. England have got to come out with the same intent they did against Ireland and put them away. If you get ahead at home, it is difficult for away sides to come back.

"From a neutral's point of view, you probably want England to go ahead early and make a game of it. The joy of people being inconsistent is that you don't know what's going to happen."

Martin Johnson is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has been helping rugby fans discover the sport for over twenty years. Visit LandRover.co.uk

Steve Borthwick says Mako Vunipola was stood down on medical advice due to England's 24/7 "camp-based environment" - insisting the prop has not been placed in self-isolation amid the coronavirus outbreak.

England on Tuesday revealed that Vunipola will not feature in the Six Nations clash with Wales at Twickenham on Saturday for "medical reasons".

The British and Irish Lion was ruled out after travelling back from Tonga via Hong Kong, but Saracens on Wednesday stated he had been cleared to play for the Premiership champions against Leicester this weekend.

England assistant coach Borthwick explained that the Rugby World Cup runners-up could not take any risks.

"Our medical team looks at our team environment, not other people's," Borthwick told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"And that's the advice we followed. We are a camp-based environment and we stay in together 24 hours a day effectively.

"Mako didn't come into camp on the advice of our medical team, who looked into the situation closely and as a precaution they advised us that the best thing for our environment was for him not to come in.

"Mako is not ill, he is not in self-isolation, but the advice we got for our environment from our medical team and the relevant parties they consulted was that he should not come into camp, and that's the advice we followed."

Mako Vunipola has been cleared to play for Saracens this weekend despite having been stood down by England on "medical grounds".

The powerhouse prop was said to have been in self-isolation as a precaution against the coronavirus, having briefly travelled through Hong Kong en route home from a trip to visit family in Tonga.

However, Sarries insisted Mako and his brother Billy have not been subjected to self-quarantine and neither showed any symptoms linked to the coronavirus.

As such, Mako is available for selection when Sarries face Leicester Tigers in the Premiership on Saturday despite having been ruled out of England's game against Wales.

"Billy Vunipola and Mako Vunipola returned to Saracens after visiting family in Tonga, which included a short stop at Hong Kong Airport," a Sarries statement read.

"Travellers returning from Hong Kong are not currently subject to mandatory quarantine or self-isolation unless they become symptomatic.

"Neither Billy or Mako have displayed symptoms of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and on their return to London were assessed by the club's medical staff.

"The duo have been around the Saracens environment for the past couple of days, with the latter available for selection this weekend.

"Saracens will continue to follow the Public Health England and World Health Organisation regulations surrounding coronavirus and the medical staff will be closely monitoring Billy and Mako on a regular basis."

Mako, who missed England's win over Ireland due to his visit to Tonga, was included in an initial training squad ahead of the crunch Twickenham encounter against Wales by head coach Eddie Jones.

However, on Tuesday an RFU spokesperson said: "Mako is not in camp on medical grounds. He is not sick but it is a precaution."

Wales are hopeful Dan Biggar will be fit to face England in the Six Nations on Saturday and Liam Williams is set to make his first appearance of the tournament.

Biggar suffered a knee injury during Northampton Saints' Premiership defeat to Saracens last weekend.

The fly-half is on course to play at Twickenham, though, as the defending champions attempt to stop the rot after back-to-back defeats at the hands of Ireland and France.

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton, working as a breakdown specialist in Wayne Pivac's set-up, said of Biggar: "He's looking good.

"The initial signs are positive. He doesn't need a scan. It puts our team selection on hold for a while because we have to wait to see how he turns up tomorrow.

"He's going to train and do stuff with the physios. But everyday so far, the feedback from the physios has been good, he's had a really good response to the stages of physio.

"He's ticking all the boxes he needs to. He's on a good course so, hopefully, with no hiccups, we'll have some good news. There are no guarantees but we're confident at this stage.

"There's a hurdle every day, the training becomes gradually more intense and will climax towards the end of the week. So if he can pass that, then all good. We're taking it day by day but the first two days have been all good.

"I don't know to be honest but I think we'll have a conclusive answer by Friday morning."

Williams has not played since suffering an ankle injury at the Rugby World Cup, but the full-back is poised to face the Red Rose.

Warburton said: "He’s back in full training. He will hopefully be in contention to start.

"This is the sort of cauldron he would love to be thrown into. It will be great to have some big game players back."

Wing Hallam Amos will definitely not feature after he was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a knee injury.

Mako Vunipola's absence for England's Six Nations clash against Wales is because he is in self-isolation as a precaution against the coronavirus, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has confirmed.

The powerhouse prop was named in a 34-man squad for the Twickenham encounter but was ruled out by forwards coach Matt Proudfoot on "medical reasons" on Wednesday.

It was later confirmed Vunipola did not come into camp as he travelled back from Tonga via Hong Kong at the weekend.

An RFU spokesperson said: "Mako is not in camp on medical grounds. He is not sick but it is a precaution."

Vunipola was missing from England's superb victory over Ireland last time out as he travelled to Tonga for family reasons.

Travellers who have been in areas where the coronavirus has been prevalent have been advised to self-isolate, meaning Vunipola may also be a doubt for England's Six Nations sign-off against Italy on March 14.

Six Nations organisers said this week the intention is for all fixtures to be completed, with Ireland's Dublin contest against Italy, which was due to take place this weekend, having been postponed.

Mako Vunipola is unavailable for England 's crunch Six Nations clash against Wales, who have confirmed Hallam Amos could miss the rest of the season.

Saracens prop Vunipola was absent for England's win over Ireland last time out as he was in Tonga for family reasons.

While Vunipola was named in a 34-man squad on Monday to prepare for Wales at Twickenham, he will not now be involved in the fixture due to a medical problem.

Speaking to Sky Sports, England's forwards coach Matt Proudfoot said: "He's not with us due to medical reasons.

"I won't say injury, it's medical reasons, yeah [he's unavailable]."

Wales, meanwhile, confirmed Amos is to undergo surgery on a knee injury sustained playing in Cardiff Blues' Pro14 victory over Benetton Treviso on February 23.

A Welsh Rugby Union statement revealed it is expected that the wing will also miss the remainder of the campaign.

Six Nations organisers say all remaining fixtures in the tournament will go ahead but the situation will continue to be monitored amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The round-four clash between Ireland and Italy in Dublin, due to be played this weekend, was postponed last Wednesday in the interest of public health, but the match is due to be rearranged.

No further games have been cancelled following a Six Nations meeting in Paris on Monday.

England's final-weekend trip to Rome to face Italy is schedule to go ahead as planned, but the women's and Under-20 showdowns in Padua and Verona respectively may be relocated.

A Six Nations statement said: "The Six Nations met today in Paris to address the current situation regarding the Covid-19 Virus.

"Six Nations and its six unions and federations are following the situation very closely with their respective governments and relevant health authorities and will strictly follow any directive given that would impact sporting events.

"As it stands today, based on the latest information, all Six Nations matches currently scheduled are set to go ahead.  

"Six Nations is in contact with FIR and RFU regarding the possibility of relocating the Women's and U20 Italy vs England matches to another Italian location and we will make a further announcement on this in due course.

"However, the Italy vs England Senior Men's match in Rome is planned to go ahead as scheduled.

"Six Nations intends to complete all 15 games across all three championships when time allows but we will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements for the time being while we keep assessing the situation."

Mako Vunipola has returned to the England squad for Saturday's crucial Six Nations clash with Wales.

The prop had not been expected to be part of Eddie Jones' squad for the Twickenham encounter, having missed England's win over Ireland after travelling to Tonga to visit a seriously ill relative.

However, he is included in Jones' 34-man party as England begin preparations for the visit of Wayne Pivac's team.

Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Jack Maunder has been selected, giving Jones a third option at number nine behind Ben Youngs and Will Heinz, while wing Anthony Watson and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie were also named in the squad.

England bounced back from their opening-round defeat to France with victories over Scotland and Ireland.

They trail leaders France - who face Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday - by four points and know defeat to Wales could spell the end of their hopes of regaining the Six Nations title.

Anthony Watson could feature for England for the first time in the 2020 Six Nations after he was named in Eddie Jones' squad for their training camp ahead of next week's clash with Wales.

Watson is yet to appear in this year's championship due to a calf injury, but head coach Jones suggested after the victory over Ireland that the wing could soon return.

"Anthony's got to do a running session and if he gets through that we'll get him into camp," Jones said.

And Watson was subsequently included in a 25-man selection on Wednesday as England reconvene for three days of training in Oxford.

Mark Wilson has likewise been recalled, while George Furbank is involved for rehabilitation purposes after missing the Ireland game, as apprentice Alex Mitchell also links up.

However, both Mako Vunipola and Luke Cowan-Dickie were not selected due to family reasons.

Vunipola had travelled to Tonga ahead of Sunday's clash with Ireland and was not expected back in time to face Wales.

Cowan-Dickie, who scored England's third try in the 24-12 Twickenham success, had been absent previously in the campaign as his girlfriend gave birth to their son seven weeks early.

England are still in the mix for the Six Nations title, although they trail Grand Slam-chasing France by four points after three games.

Wales have confirmed Josh Adams will need surgery on the ankle injury he suffered against France, ruling the wing out for the rest of the Six Nations.

Adams was hurt during the 27-23 defeat at the Principality Stadium on Saturday and was replaced by Jarrod Evans in the 66th minute.

The 24-year-old will undergo surgery to repair the damage this week and is expected to be out for three months, meaning he will miss Wales' remaining two fixtures - against England and Scotland - in March.

In a short statement on their website, the Welsh Rugby Union said it is "envisaged" Adams, who has scored 14 tries in 24 Test appearances, will be back for the latter stages of the Pro14 season with his club, Cardiff Blues.

Head coach Wayne Pivac will now wait for an update on another of his wing options in George North, who failed a head injury assessment during the home loss to Les Bleus.

Pivac has not called up a replacement for Adams ahead of the trip to Twickenham on March 7.

Liam Williams has left Saracens to join the Scarlets with immediate effect and his Wales team-mate Rhys Webb has signed for Bath for the rest of the season.

It was announced in December that British and Irish Lions full-back Williams will return to his homeland for a second spell with the Scarlets at the end of the current campaign.

Williams, who has not played since the Rugby World Cup due to an ankle injury, has been cleared to leave the European and Premiership champions earlier than initially planned, bringing to an end a hugely successful spell in London.

The 28-year-old won two Premiership titles and the European Champions Cup during his two-and-a-half year stay with Sarries, who will play in the Championship next year due to salary-cap breaches.

Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar said: "Liam is a world-class player and man, a huge favourite at Parc y Scarlets and we are thrilled to welcome Liam and Sophie back to the Scarlets.

"To have Liam joining our exciting group of outside backs this season is superb. I’m also thrilled for Liam that his rehab is almost complete. 

"Obviously, his immediate availability for us will depend on how Wayne wants to play it during the Six Nations and we look forward to seeing Liam back at Parc y Scarlets in due course."

Webb will spend the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign with Premiership side Bath ahead of a move to Ospreys.

The scrum-half was granted an early release from his Toulon contract at the end of last year and agreed to rejoin Ospreys on a two-year deal.

Webb, who made his Wales comeback in the Six Nations defeat of Italy this month, could make his debut in the derby against Bristol Bears on March 1.

 

Wayne Pivac was unimpressed with the officiating after Wales suffered a narrow defeat to France that leaves the defending champions with only a slim chance of retaining their Six Nations title.

Romain Ntamack was the star of the show as Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a victory in Cardiff, winning a thriller 27-23 on Saturday.

Ntamack scored 17 points in a fly-half masterclass at the Principality Stadium for a France side that have won three out of three this year, putting them on track for a first Six Nations crown in a decade.

However, Wales felt they should have been awarded a penalty try by referee Matthew Carley for what they saw as a deliberate knock-on by Paul Willemse when Ken Owens attempted to set up Josh Adams in the second half.

Head coach Pivac said: "We have had a look at the slap down and I think the officials may have got that one wrong.

"That killed momentum as well."

Pivac was also aggrieved when France were awarded a penalty in a scrum as Wales applied the pressure, with prop Wyn Jones having stated this week he expected Les Bleus to "cheat" when they packed down.

"Another disappointing moment was when the French tighthead [Demba Bamba] came on and went straight across the scrum and was rewarded for that," said the New Zealander.

"Those were the big moments in the game. The scrums, from our point of view, had gone okay up until that point.

"You have got to go with the forward motion but he clearly went across the scrum."

Pivac said wings George North and Adams will be checked over after suffering head and ankle injuries respectively, with Wales having games against England and Scotland in March.

"George will go through the normal protocols for a HIA [head injury assessment]. He was taken off the field for a HIA," Pivac stated.

"Josh Adams had an ankle injury. We will have to check him in the next day or two to see how severe it is."

Romain Ntamack says Six Nations leaders France are not discussing the prospect of winning a Grand Slam after he inspired a magnificent 27-23 victory over Wales.

Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a victory in Cardiff to outline their title credentials in a thriller at a raucous Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Fly-half Ntamack score a crucial intercept try in the second half following first-half scores from Anthony Bouthier and Paul Willemse.

Dan Biggar's 18-point haul was in vain as the defending champions suffered back-to-back defeats to leave their hopes of retaining the title in tatters.

France went on to complete a clean sweep after their last win in Wales back in 2010, which is the last time they won the tournament.

Ntamack, who was named man of the match after scoring 17 points and showing maturity way beyond his years, says they are not getting ahead of themselves in what has been a dream start to the Fabien Galthie era.

"It's amazing. We worked the whole week for a big game like that. It was a very tough game," he told BBC Sport.

"We have no experience, but we play with a smile. It was a good experience to win at the Principality.

"The try was a good moment. We don't think about the Grand Slam, we play match after match."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones says Wales only had themselves to blame.

"The scoreboard said they deserved it," he said. "You make your own luck sometimes and we fell short on the scoreboard.

"We gave them two penalties and they scored. In the second half, we had the ascendancy and we felt we should have got more out of that scrum. There was a case for a couple of penalty tries.

"They have a very good defence coach [former Wales defence guru Shaun Edwards] and were an embodiment of that today."

Serge Betsen feels the "unbelievable" Shaun Edwards has already made a big impact since he was appointed France defence coach and declared "this is just the beginning".

Edwards was lured across the English Channel to join a new-look Les Bleus coaching set-up under Fabien Galthie after 12 years as Wales defensive guru.

It was clear that the hugely respected, no-nonsense 53-year-old has already stamped his authority early in his new role with the manner in which France defended for their lives in a victory over England in their Six Nations opener.

Edwards returns to Cardiff on Saturday for France's showdown with his former employers at the Principality Stadium on what promises to be a pivotal weekend in the battle for the title.

Betsen has first-hand experience of Edwards' coaching skills from his time at Wasps and the former France flanker has paid tribute to the Englishman.

He told Omnisport: "Shaun Edwards used to be my coach at Wasps. He coached me for three years, he's an unbelievable coach, very passionate and very effective with what he does.

"He's one of the best defensive coaches in the world and everybody who he coaches, you can see the impact he has made. I'm looking forward to seeing how he is going to empower the French players for this game because it's really fine margins and those margins are so important.

"I don't feel he'll be looking to use his past experience with Wales as an advantage so much, but what he is really good at [is] empowering people and he'll make sure the players know how to be the best they can be."

Betsen revealed Edwards asked to pick his brains before embarking on his new challenge.

"I really appreciated the fact that Shaun asked to meet with me before he went to France, to try to understand the French mentality, et cetera," he added.

"As a Frenchman and someone who understands his coaching philosophy, I think he made a very good decision to try to understand the people he would be working with and the culture, to ensure he can adapt himself and make a difference.

"We saw the impact he has made in the game against England, not so much against Italy. He brings to the team with instilling discipline, effectiveness, attention to detail and this is just the beginning.

"What people remember from Shaun Edwards is the blitz defence and I want to see the French team being able to apply that at some point."

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