Jones in verbal scrum with Welsh duo

LONDON • Eddie Jones trained his sights on Alun Wyn Jones and Rhys Patchell as he launched his fiercest verbal assault yet on "cocky" Wales ahead of today's Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

The England head coach heaped the pressure on Patchell, the 24-year-old preparing to start only his second Test at fly half, by claiming that his Wales team-mates doubt he has the "bottle" to cope with the intensity of the occasion.

The Australian then accused Jones of intimidating French referee Pascal Gauzere in Wales' 34-7 win against Scotland last weekend and revealed that he had reported the incident to World Rugby.

Jones said that the Wales captain overstepped the mark with his attempts to prevent Finn Russell from taking a quick conversion after Peter Horne had scored a late try at the Principality Stadium.

"We can't have that in the game. That's borrowed from another sport and I really hope World Rugby don't allow that to creep into the game," Jones said.

He said Danny Care and Jonathan Joseph will be in his starting XV and added: "At times, players lose their cool but that was a contrived bit of behaviour.

"Jerome Garces (today's referee) won't tolerate that sort of stuff. He won't let Jones referee the game."

Jones also singled out Patchell, who is starting at fly half as Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland are injured, for special treatment.

He said: "Young guys like Patchell with boys like (Sam) Simmonds and (Chris) Robshaw and (Owen) Farrell running at him, it will be one hell of an experience for the kid. I hope he has the bottle.

"They've got to get the ball wide and Patchell hasn't played much Test match rugby.

"He's a young guy, he's inexperienced and he's their third-choice No. 10."

However, Wales backed their young fly half and defence coach Shaun Edwards has been working on a ferocious line speed to try to combat England's playmaking threat of George Ford, at fly half, and Farrell, the inside centre.

"Shaun has been banging the drum with regard to putting them under pressure," said Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2018, with the headline 'Jones in verbal scrum with Welsh duo'. Print Edition | Subscribe