Analysing the midfield options for Wales ahead of England clash

Wales head to Twickenham knowing that a first win away to England in seven years would reignite their 2022 Guinness Six Nations with the big question coming over the centre pairing.

Wales head to Twickenham knowing that a first win away to England in seven years would reignite their 2022 Guinness Six Nations with the big question coming over the centre pairing.

Wayne Pivac hit the jackpot in 2021 when he moved George North to outside centre, with the long-time winger excelling in the midfield as Wales claimed the title.

North’s serious knee injury suffered at the end of last season has left Pivac looking elsewhere to fill the gap, and as the trip to Twickenham approaches, it is still unclear which way he will go.

Nick Tompkins has started both games of the Championship so far, alongside Josh Adams in the defeat in Dublin, and then combining with Owen Watkin a week later as Wales saw off Scotland.

That was actually a second successive win over the Scots for the Tompkins-Watkin pairing, the duo having also started the win in Edinburgh last year that North missed.

But with Adams now fit again, as well as the possibility of playing either Jonathan Davies or Willis Halaholo, there is no guarantee that we will see the same combination starting two games running.


Tompkins has started the last four games for Wales, three times at inside centre and once in the No.13 jersey outside Halaholo.

While the Cardiff centre has impressed when given the chance at international level, notably off the bench against England a year ago, he is only just returning from a hamstring injury and has not played any rugby since December.

To go from there to starting at Twickenham seems unlikely, even with the game-breaking ability he offers.

That likely means that Tompkins will carry on in the No.12 jersey. Pivac has shown a great deal of trust in Tompkins, and while he is not the biggest, that experience could come in useful in defence against the threat of Manu Tuilagi.

The Sale Sharks centre is in line for his first appearance of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, and brings an added dimension to England’s attack.

His ability to bust holes on the gain line opens up time and space for Marcus Smith and Henry Slade and will be a big test of Gethin Jenkins’ defence.

Adams’ return after missing the win over Scotland leaves Pivac with an interesting decision. A world-class winger, he did not appear entirely comfortable in Dublin, but the question is how much of that was down to his lack of familiarity of playing in the midfield, and how much was the fact that Ireland enjoyed lightning-quick ball and Johnny Sexton was able to play behind a dominant pack.

Following North’s successful move inside, it might seem premature to write off Adams’ chances of converting to centre, but equally, an immediate return to the No.13 jersey would be a gamble. With Louis Rees-Zammit set to miss out, it seems as though Adams will return to his more familiar position out wide.

That leaves two realistic options: sticking with Watkin after arguably his best performance in a Wales jersey under Pivac – one kick out on the full notwithstanding – or a return for centurion Davies.


Like Dan Biggar, Davies made it 100 Test appearances in the win over Scotland, entering the fray late on and making an immediate impression.

He forced the turnover late on that sealed the win, while a rip in the tackle on Duhan van der Merwe was another moment that swung the momentum in favour of the hosts.

His club form has not been quite of the level that we have come to expect, but that little cameo showed that Davies remains as fierce a competitor as ever.

In the cauldron of Twickenham, Davies’ organisational skills could be invaluable in what is a relatively inexperienced Welsh side.

The question is, has Watkin done enough to earn another start, allowing Davies to continue in the finisher’s role that, ironically, Eddie Jones values so dearly.

It is a big call, and could have huge implications on how the game turns out on Saturday.