Jones stirs the pot ahead of Wales clash

10 February 2018 01:31:43 GMTPlus11

England coach Eddie Jones has questioned the mental strength of Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell and the behaviour of skipper Alun Wyn Jones ahead of Saturday's Six Nations game.

The arch rivals meet at Twickenham hoping to build on their respective wins on the opening weekend of the tournament, England thrashing Italy while Wales comfortably beat Scotland.

Wales coach Warren Gatland handed Patchell his first Test start in the win over the Scots and the Scarlets fly-half caught the eye, proving instrumental in linking the Welsh attacks.

The 24-year-old, who is only in the starting line-up due to injuries to Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland, has kept his place in the team for this weekend's game against the defending champions and Jones has suggested he might not be able to handle the occasion.

The Australian says playing against England for Wales will be a massive step-up for Patchell and believes his team-mates will have doubts over the young No.10.

"He’s a young guy, he’s inexperienced and is their third-choice 10. He will have to find guys around him to help because he’ll be under some heat," said Jones.

"I’d imagine that when Alun Wyn Jones and the guys go down for breakfast on Saturday morning, they’ll be looking at him thinking: can this kid handle the pressure today?

"He’s got to get the ball wide and that’s going to be a big job. It will be different to playing against Scotland.

"It’s a big ask … one hell of an experience for the kid. I hope he has the bottle on Saturday.”

Jones went on to criticises Wales captain Jones, claiming he had complained to World Rugby about his behaviour when preventing Scotland from taking a conversion late on late week.

"I thought that was right out of order," said the England coach. "I've said something to World Rugby about it, I feel that strongly.

"All we say is just to be respectful. At times players lose their cool, but that was a contrived bit of behaviour.”

Jones has made two changes to his England team from the win over Italy, Jonathan Joseph and Danny Care coming in for Ben Youngs and Ben Te’o. Wales are unchanged with George North returning to the bench.

England are 1.14 to beat Wales this weekend, while the visitors to Twickenham are 5.50.

The Red Rose are 4.33 to win a third successive Six Nations with Wales 351.00.

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