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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Six Nations: Jones backs Joseph to apply the 'heat' to Patchell when England face Wales

In Saturday's other game, Ireland make four changes to the starting XV to face Italy, including first Six Nations starts for Conan and Leavy.

Jonathan Joseph, centre, takes part in training ahead of England's Six Nations game against Wales. David Rogers / Getty Images
Jonathan Joseph, centre, takes part in training ahead of England's Six Nations game against Wales. David Rogers / Getty Images

England coach Eddie Jones has backed Jonathan Joseph to make life tough for Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell after recalling the centre for Saturday's Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

Joseph and scrum-half Danny Care, in for the injured Ben Youngs, are the only two changes to the starting XV that launched England's title defence with a 46-15 win in Italy on Sunday -- a match where they both starred off the bench. Joseph has changed places with Worcester’s Ben Te'o.

"It's just my gut feeling," said Jones at England's training base in Bagshot, southwest of London, on Thursday. "I feel he will start the game well against Wales.

"We were very happy with Benny Te'o last week, he played really well for us. But it's also his second game back and my experience with players is that their second game back from a long injury is always the most difficult game, so we'll use him off the bench this week."

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Wales come into this match on the back of thrashing Scotland 34-7 in Cardiff, a match where Patchell impressed in his first Six Nations start following injuries to first-choice fly-halves Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland.

But Jones said Joseph's sheer speed would provide Patchell with a tougher test.

“JJ’s got great experience, he's fast, a great defensive player," the Australian said. "Every time Rhys Patchell looks up he's going to see JJ in his vision -- it's not a great sight.

"They (Wales) have 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 10 (fly-half). He's got to get the ball wide and that's going to be a big job for him.

"It's going to be different to playing against Scotland, Scotland couldn't cope with the expectation.

"Now he (Patchell) has got to cope with the expectation of playing well. He's got to find guys around him to help him because he's going to be under some heat.

Saturday's match will see Care, starting after Youngs suffered a tournament-ending knee injury in Rome, become England's most capped scrum-half when he makes his 78th Red Rose appearance to move past 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson.

"Danny is more of a running player, which means the kicking duties will be shared a bit more," said Jones of the Harlequins No 9.

Spectators at Twickenham have often been accused of lacking the passion commonplace at other Six Nations venues but Jones expects a capacity crowd to be roaring England on this weekend.

"The 82,000 it's like our 24th man," he said. "They are going to be full of energy, full of passion and it's going to be a great Saturday."

Conan and Leavy handed first Ireland starts

Ireland flanker Dan Leavy. Christophe Simon / AFP
Ireland flanker Dan Leavy. Christophe Simon / AFP

Jack Conan and Dan Leavy will make their first Six Nations starts after Joe Schmidt named the backrow duo in the starting XV to face Italy on Saturday at Lansdowne Road.

Conan, 25, and Leavy come in for CJ Stander and Josh van der Flier respectively, among four changes, all in the scrum.

Stander is on the replacements bench while Van der Flier will play no further role in the tournament after a first-half injury in the win over France ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Flanker Leavy, 23, came on for his Leinster teammate and put in an impressive performance.

No 8 Conan, who like Leavy and Van der Flier plays for Leinster, will win his sixth cap. With four tries already to his name, the Italian defence will be on high alert to the dangers he can cause.

The other two changes see veteran lock Devin Toner restored to the second row alongside Iain Henderson.