Rugby-England unchanged to face Wales at Twickenham

Although England's 27-24 victory was their smallest winning margin against Italy, they showed more ambition in attack than during their kick-based World Cup campaign last year and, after fighting back from an early 10-0 deficit, were in control for most of the second half. With five players having made their debuts, coach Steve Borthwick is keen to give them and the new systems another opportunity to bed in.


Reuters | Updated: 08-02-2024 22:14 IST | Created: 08-02-2024 22:12 IST
Rugby-England unchanged to face Wales at Twickenham
Representative image Image Credit: pixabay

England have named an unchanged team for the first time since the 2019 World Cup final as they prepare to face Wales in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Saturday, with Ellis Genge the only change on the bench from the side who beat Italy last week. In the squad released on Thursday, loosehead prop Genge returns in place of Beno Obano after overcoming the foot injury that made him a late withdrawal in Rome.

Such continuity is extremely rare, usually due to injuries, but Borthwick's squad came through last week's opener relatively unscathed. Although England's 27-24 victory was their smallest winning margin against Italy, they showed more ambition in attack than during their kick-based World Cup campaign last year and, after fighting back from an early 10-0 deficit, were in control for most of the second half.

With five players having made their debuts, coach Steve Borthwick is keen to give them and the new systems another opportunity to bed in. "With a new player group and a number of new caps, we have tried to develop our game on both sides of the ball," Borthwick said. "Such changes take time, and I was pleased how quickly the players settled and adapted last weekend.

"While it was far from perfect, it was a promising start and the players will get better the more they play together." It was Jamie George's first game as captain and he said he learned a lot from it.

"The thing I need to make sure I keep doing is keep using the guys around me," said the hooker. "I've been so lucky and blessed to have up into leadership roles and I'd be stupid not to keep picking their brains and using them, especially on the field, the likes of Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje and George Ford running the team." George agreed with his coach that the Italy victory was a first small step for a squad showing so many changes from that which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. "There's a huge excitement around the squad as a whole in terms of building on the performances," he said.

"We've said it a million times since Saturday - it's not exactly where we wanted it to be but the courage and endeavour to do try to do things a little bit differently, to play at a higher intensity, was there. "Naturally as a player, you just want to go into the next thing. Steve has been trying to pull us back all week because it's England-Wales and we are back at Twickenham."

England's HQ is not a place Wales have enjoyed visiting for a long time. They have not won a Six Nations game there since 2012 and that, along with 2008, are their only championship victories there in 36 years – though they did slip in a famous World Cup pool stage win in 2015 that contributed to England’s early exit. Wales

named their team on Wednesday, with coach Warren Gatland making seven changes to his starting lineup to reflect the Jekyll and Hyde performance that saw them come from 27-0 down to

lose 27-26 to Scotland in Cardiff last week.

 

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