Preview: England v Wales

England and Wales will both look to get their World Cup preparations off to a flier when they meet in their first tournament warm-up match at Twickenham on Sunday.

England and Wales will both look to get their World Cup preparations off to a flier when they meet in their first tournament warm-up match at Twickenham on Sunday.

Eddie Jones has named a side bursting with new faces as Willi Heinz and wing Ruaridh McConnochie prepare to make their England debuts against the 2019 Guinness Six Nations champions.

George Ford has been named as captain at half-back, with Piers Francis to take his place at centre.

Sam Underhill and Tom Curry will play as flankers together for the first time while McConnochie will line-up in a back three with full-back Elliot Daly and club teammate Anthony Watson, who returns to the England fold to make a first international appearance since March 2018 after overcoming a serious Achilles injury.

Flanker Lewis Ludlam is set to make his debut off the bench, as are Joe Marchant and hooker Jack Singleton.

Whereas Jones has gone with youth, Warren Gatland has gone with what he knows best and named a squad full of experience.

Alun Wyn Jones will captain the side and break a Welsh record by making his 135th Test appearance.

Gareth Anscombe will start at fly-half, partnering Gareth Davies at half-back.

Number eight Ross Moriarty will be at the base of the scrum in a breakaway trio alongside Justin Tipuric at open-side and Aaron Wainwright.

Nicky Smith, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis are named in the front row with Adam Beard partnering Jones in the second row.

What they said:

Eddie Jones (England head coach): “We have completed our four weeks of pre-season training and now we have moved into four weeks of warm up games ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

“Our focus has now changed to match preparation and fitness and creating a game that will stand up to the rigours of the tournament where we have to win seven games in seven weeks.

“Our team selection and tactics in our next four games are all about developing a team capable of winning in Japan and our overarching target of being ready when we get on the plane on the 8th of September to win the World Cup.”

“We are looking forward to playing at Twickenham and giving the home crowd something to smile about.”

Warren Gatland (Wales head coach): “The squad are looking forward to this weekend and getting a game under their belt after a really intense preparation period.

“We have picked a strong looking team and we are looking forward to seeing how they kick on after a successful couple of campaigns”

“These matches are really important leading into the RWC, to ensure that both the players are ready for the tournament but also to give players opportunity to put their hands up for selection.

“There is a balance with selection, a needed to mix continuity from what we have achieved and opportunity and we will look to do that over the next couple of weeks.

“Looking at the first two matches, this block replicates what we are doing in the RWC with a six day turnaround so it’s a good opportunity for us to prepare and mimic that schedule.”

Key battle: Charlie Ewels v Alun Wyn Jones

The battle of the locks will be key, as it always is when Wales are playing, at Twickenham on Sunday.

Wyn Jones is such a talismanic figure that his sheer presence elevates the Welsh side but, when he’s playing well, Wales are near unstoppable so it will be Ewels’ job to try and stop the legendary Ospreys man from getting going, easier said than done.

Bath player Ewels has forced his way into Jones’ England plans and will be motivated by the possibility of forcing his way onto the flight to Japan as cover should he produce a solid showing on Sunday.

Stat Watch:

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will appear in a Welsh record 135th Test on Sunday, 126 for Wales and nine for the British and Irish Lions England have won four of their last five Tests against Wales, but that defeat came in Wales’ all-conquering Guinness Six Nations campaign this year

England: Elliot Daly; Ruaridh McConnochie, Henry Slade, Piers Francis, Anthony Watson; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Jack Singleton, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Ben Youngs, Joe Marchant, Joe Cokanasiga

Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Shingler, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.