Eddie Jones has vowed to ruin Warren Gatland’s farewell party after claiming Wales could cave beneath the expectation surrounding Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash in Cardiff.
It is Gatland’s final Championship match against England before stepping down after the World Cup and the Kiwi is among the contenders to replace Jones when he departs, potentially also after Japan 2019.
Wales are seeking a 12th successive victory that would set a new national record and have already been acclaimed the best Welsh side of all time by a mischievous Jones, who continued the mind game when unveiling his starting XV.
“As we know, the week’s all been about Wales,” said Jones ahead of the clash between the Six Nations’ only unbeaten teams.
“The Dragons are flying, so it should be interesting. They’re up for winning 12 games in a row. It’s Warren’s last game as well before he takes over somewhere else.
“It’s all about Wales, we are playing potentially the greatest team ever. Their players are full of emotion and it’s the biggest game they are going to play in their lives.
“It’s a big week for them and there’s a lot of expectation. That expectation can either be some wind in their sails, or it can be a ball and chain. We’ll find out on Saturday.
“They have a team they are so proud of and a coach they are so proud of. It’s his last game. We are excited to be a part of that and spoil the party.
“I don’t know about their camp. All I know is that there’s a lot of talk coming out of it.”
Jack Nowell has been restored to the right wing in place of the injured Chris Ashton, who is expected to return from his calf injury in time to face Italy in round four.
Nowell excelled during the opening-weekend rout of Ireland but made way for Ashton against France and is now thrust back into the starting XV for a seismic showdown in Cardiff.
Supplying wing cover on the bench is Joe Cokanasiga, the marauding Bath threequarter who is poised to win his third cap after recovering from a knee injury.
“Jack’s a great little player. Great work rate, strong and good in the air. Against a Wales side that will tend to keep the ball more he’ll be pretty useful for us,” Jones said.
“Joe’s a good young player, he’s working hard at his game. I really like his attitude and how hard he works at his game now. He’s going to be a good player for us.
“He’s good in the air, he can run and he’ll cause the Welsh defence some problems.”
A Championship-ending ankle injury has created a vacancy at loosehead prop that is filled by Ben Moon with Ellis Genge serving as a second-half replacement at the Principality Stadium.
“It’s not about edge at loosehead, it’s an order. At the start of the game, Ben’s an industrious player who tackles well,” Jones said.
“For the end of the game, Genge is a more attacking prop. Possibly there will be more opportunities at the end of the day.”