The mind games began last week for England’s huge trip to Principality Stadium this weekend.
And they continued on Thursday as Eddie Jones named his team to take on Wales in the battle of the unbeaten teams left in the 2019 Championship.
The team news was that Jack Nowell and Ben Moon come in to start for the injured Chris Ashton and Mako Vunipola.
But more on that below, first we have to address Jones’ quotes to accompany his team news this Saturday.
England are on a run of four Test wins in a row, including back-to-back bonus-point victories over Ireland and France to kick off this year’s Championship and put them top of the pile.
They are the bookies favourites for this weekend and have won the last five meetings between the two sides in the Guinness Six Nations.
But Warren Gatland’s Wales are on an 11-Test winning run of their own, equalling a century old record for the country, and Jones is keen to paint his side as the underdogs.
“As you have read in the media, it’s all about Wales, we are playing potentially the greatest team ever,” he said.
“England and Wales is always a big game. Intense rivals and there is the historical context to it, but for us it is our most important game because it is our next game and that is how we are treating it.”
CHIEFS DUO RETURN
The loss of both Ashton and Vunipola is undoubtedly a blow for Jones who is already without Maro Itoje and Dylan Hartley.
But in Exeter Chiefs duo Nowell and Moon he has two proven internationals to swell his options.
Nowell, a British & Irish Test Lion no less, started in Dublin and will provide energy from the start as England’s ninth forward while Moon was superb in the autumn.
The loosehead prop had never appeared for England before but against the All Blacks and the Springboks he more than held his own.
And with Ellis Genge in reserve, Jones is feeling confident about his side’s ability to still match Wales up front.
“Ben Moon will start and Ellis Genge will finish so we will get a great 80 minutes out of those two.
The two changes to the starting XV were injury-enforced and largely expected.
But it is on the bench that Jones has made his most interesting calls, with both Brad Shields and Joe Cokanasiga included for the first time.
The duo have yet to appear in this year’s Championship, indeed neither have ever before played in the Guinness Six Nations after breaking through last year.
But Cokanasiga was a sight to behold in the autumn when he skittled Japan and Australia defenders with astonishing ease.
Shields meanwhile is preferred to Hughes as back row cover and will be keen to show Jones what he has been missing.
A starter on the blindside during the autumn, injury ruled him out of the Dublin opener but now he has his chance to work his way back into contention.
“Jack Nowell will start and Joe Cokanasiga will come onto the bench. As we saw in the autumn, Joe is a player of great potential so we are looking forward to him adding to the squad.
“Brad Shields comes in for Nathan Hughes as a finisher as we just feel like it is going to be a high work-rate game.”
The last two Championship games between Wales and England have been incredibly tight.
Elliot Daly saved the day in Cardiff with a last-gasp score in 2017 while last year the Red Rose had to cling on for a 12-6 victory at Twickenham.
Expect more fireworks this weekend on Saturday night and Jones’ side are prepared for whatever Wales can throw at them.
“They are always very fit so you have to make sure you win the gain line and then find opportunities of where you are going to attack them.”