Six Nations: England tell Wales to bring on the abuse
Ken Owens and Kyle Sinckler are ready for the Cardiff showdown
Wales vs. England
- What: Six Nations round three
- When: Saturday 23 February
- Where: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
- Start time: 4.45pm (GMT)
- TV channel: live on BBC One and S4C
There are only five days until the Six Nations showdown between Wales and England and already the Welsh are stoking the tension.
Hooker Ken Owens says that he and some of the more experienced members of the Wales squad are trying to rein in the young bloods who are champing at the bit to get at the English, who on Sunday lost winger Chris Ashton to a calf injury.
“It’s just keeping a lid on it because you see some guys and they are literally on edge from the Monday, wanting to rip people’s heads off,” Owens told WalesOnline.
Wales are seeking a record 12th successive victory on Saturday at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, and desperate to end the winning streak is an English side who have blown away the Irish and the French in their opening matches of this year’s championship.
Describing some of the younger members of the squad as “keen” to get among England on Saturday, Owens said it would be crucial not to let one’s emotions run wild.
“You perhaps get a little caught up in it sometimes,” he reflected. “But probably the more experienced you get, you know you just need to concentrate on what the important thing is, and that’s the 80 minutes on the Saturday, and delivering what you can control and controlling those controllables.
“Perhaps early on in my career, I would get caught up in the hype.”
Treading a fine line
If Owens will try to keep his teammates under control, he’ll perhaps look to make one or two of the English lose their cool in what will be a red-hot atmosphere. And no one in the England squad is more susceptible to blowing a fuse than prop Kyle Sinckler.
The Harlequins tighthead is a superb player but with a suspect temperament. Against France on 10 February he gave away a needless penalty for slapping Arthur Iturria and it’s that sort of indiscipline that Wales will seek to exploit.
“I have to make sure I’m in control and I don’t let the emotions get the better of me, but at the same time if you are part of the front row and playing in the forward pack it is always going to be a fine line,” Sinckler told Sky Sports.
Asked about the slap, he replied: “I don’t condone what I did, but they didn’t show the full replay of what actually conspired. I didn’t just smack him on the head. There was stuff that happened before… I’m not perfect and I’ve learned from it. It’s a good lesson to learn.
“Just off the back of it, I tried to make a big carry. Learn from it. Don’t go trying to chase the game.”
Sinckler and Owens were members of the 2017 British and Irish Lions squad that drew a memorable series in New Zealand, and which owed much to the nous of head coach Warren Gatland.
He’s now back in charge of Wales and might his insights into the English Lions be a crucial advantage on Saturday?
“Gats does what he does,” said Sinckler. “The main thing for us is that we can’t lose sleep over what they are going to do.”
Bring on the abuse
As for the reception England will receive when they run out at Cardiff, Sinckler can’t wait. “It’s pretty hostile as you would expect but it is all good fun,” he said. “You see all the Welsh flags going in and everyone giving you a bit of abuse, which is good fun.”
Jones names squad
Meanwhile, England head coach Eddie Jones has selected a 33-man squad to prepare for the clash in Cardiff against Wales. Three uncapped players - Saracens No.8 Ben Earl, Worcester Warriors hooker Jack Singleton and Gloucester Rugby’s Ollie Thorley - are all included.
However, Sale Sharks winger Chris Ashton is ruled out of the match because of a minor calf strain while Mako Vunipola will miss the rest of the championship.
England 33-man squad
- Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Ben Earl (Saracens), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
- Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Six Nations results, fixtures and TV guide
Round one results
- France 19 Wales 24
- Scotland 33 Italy 20
- Ireland 20 England 32
Round two results
- Scotland 13 Ireland 22
- Italy 15 Wales 26
- England 44 France 8
Round three fixtures
- Saturday 23 February: France vs. Scotland (2.15pm, live on BBC); Wales vs. England (4.45pm, live on BBC and S4C)
- Sunday 24 February: Italy vs. Ireland (3pm, live on ITV)
Round four fixtures
- Saturday 9 March: Scotland vs. Wales (2.15pm, live on BBC and S4C); England vs. Italy (3pm, live on ITV)
- Sunday 10 March: Ireland vs. France (4.45pm, live on ITV)
Round five fixtures
- Saturday 16 March: Italy vs. France (12.30pm, live on ITV); Wales vs. Ireland (2.45pm, live on BBC and S4C)
- Sunday 17 March: England vs. Scotland (5pm, live on BBC)