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Wales boss Gatland targeting redemption against England

Wales look to bounce back following Twickenham defeat against England.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said his players need to perform against England (Nigel French/PA)
Wales head coach Warren Gatland said his players need to perform against England (Nigel French/PA)

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent

Wales boss Warren Gatland has told his players they are under pressure to perform against World Cup warm-up opponents England on Saturday.

The fierce rivals meet in Cardiff less than a week after Gatland’s men were beaten 33-19 at Twickenham.

Gatland has made just three changes to the line-up in south-west London, and it features 10 players who were on starting duty in a Six Nations title and Grand Slam-clinching victory over Ireland five months ago.

“It’s easy enough to make a lot of changes, but some of the players would have been disappointed with last weekend, and particularly that first 20 minutes,” Gatland said.

“For us, it’s about a chance to redeem ourselves and give those players another hit-out and go out there and perform, and put some pressure on them to perform as well.

“There is a lot of pressure on those guys on the weekend, because if some of them don’t front and don’t perform, they are opening the door for someone else.

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Wales head coach Warren Gatland wants an improvement following last weekend’s defeat by England (Ben Birchall/PA)

“If you win last week and you win this weekend, you pretty much would have sealed, potentially, a starting spot for the first game or first couple of games in the World Cup.

“That’s why we wanted to make sure that players are aware and that they are under pressure.”

Scarlets duo Jonathan and James Davies will become the first set of brothers since 2006 to start for Wales when they feature against England.

Gatland has named openside flanker James, who wins his fourth cap, alongside back-row colleagues Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty, while Jonathan partners Hadleigh Parkes in midfield.

They are the first set of brothers to play alongside each other for Wales since Jamie and Nicky Robinson 13 years ago.

James Davies replaces Justin Tipuric, while fly-half Dan Biggar takes over from an injured Gareth Anscombe and lock Jake Ball is in for Adam Beard.

“It’s been tough for James,” Gatland added. “He has been really struggling with back issues, and he has dug in in terms of the way he has pushed himself when he has been in a lot of pain.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for him. He is pretty fired up.

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Dan Biggar will start the game for Wales (Jane Barlow/PA)

“He is kind of someone who for his whole career people have knocked him and said he’s too small and not able to compete at the highest level.

“We probably had some of the same thoughts as well, but having coached him and been involved with him, we have been incredibly impressed with him.

“We’ve always been looking at him and seeing his potential. He has been unfortunate that for a few campaigns he has had injuries. We were very impressed with him in Argentina last year.”

Biggar starts with Anscombe having suffered a World Cup-ending knee ligament injury at Twickenham.

On Anscombe, Gatland said: “He’s done his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and a meniscus as well.

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Wales’ Gareth Anscombe will undergo knee surgery (Adam Davy/PA)

“He did it when he made the break down the sideline. It wasn’t from a tackle, he’s just stepped off his right leg. You can see the jarring on the video.

“He said to the physios he felt he had jarred his knee and stayed on thinking he could run it off.

“He asked the physios if he’d done any more damage, and they said: ‘No, you’d already done that and it wasn’t going to get any worse’.

“Unfortunately, he’s going to require surgery and it’s going to keep him out for most of the season.”

Tipuric (ankle) and Beard (wrist), meanwhile, have been left out as a precaution this weekend.

PA

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