Eddie Jones admits England will be motivated by revenge when they face Wales in a Guinness Six Nations title clash they must win to remain in title contention.
Jones has made two changes for Saturday’s Twickenham showdown after naming Anthony Watson on the right wing in place of Jonathan Joseph and covering for Sam Underhill’s head injury by picking Mark Wilson at openside.
A year ago England were powering towards the Grand Slam as they followed up emphatic victories over Ireland and France by building a 10-3 half-time lead in Cardiff that spiralled into a 21-13 defeat.
Wales went on to be crowned champions and the setback at the Principality Stadium still rankles for England ahead of Wayne Pivac’s first visit to Twickenham since replacing Warren Gatland in November.
“You’ve got to remember they beat us last year so we owe them one,” head coach Jones said.
“They’ve lost two games in a row. They’ve got a new coach and they’ll want to make a statement on Saturday.
“Traditionally our games are very close so they’ll come with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy.
“Their two veterans Ken Owens and Alun Wyn Jones will lead the way and they’ll be a tough team to beat.
“They pass the ball a little bit more under Wayne Pivac but there isn’t any great change at the moment.
“They’re a still a very good team. They were semi-finalists at the World Cup and to get that far you have to be a good team.
“These three games in the Six Nations are the ones that are great for England – Scotland, Ireland and Wales. They’re traditional, they’re tough and they mean a lot to all of the countries.”
Watson and Wilson will be making their first England appearances since the World Cup final.
Watson was due to start the Six Nations opener against France but was forced to withdraw following the recurrence of a calf injury he first sustained on club duty for Bath in early January.
Despite making only one start for Sale since recovering from knee surgery, Wilson slots straight into the back row and is preferred ahead of Lewis Ludlam, who missed out on the bench spot as Jones once again opts for a six-two split between forwards and backs.
“Anthony trained really well. We haven’t seen much of him but he’s come back in and is fully fit and ready to go,” Jones said.
“Mark’s had a hard route. He was great for us during the World Cup. He’s a terrific team man.
“He’s had to go through a knee operation and rehab but he’s come back in, is fit and full of beans and has added a lot of energy to the team.”