Friday, 23 February, 2018

Warren Gatland backs Eddie Jones for British & Irish Lions job in 2021

At the double Halfpenny crosses the line for his second try At the double Halfpenny crosses the line for his second tryKIERAN MCMANUS
Johnnie Parks | 07 February, 2018, 06:41

Not only is Gatland a two-time British and Irish Lions coach, who won and drew series against Australia and New Zealand respectively, but a three-time Six Nations victor who has twice guided Wales to a Grand Slam.

Warren Gatland has opted to stick with the Wales XV that started Saturday's Six Nations win against Scotland for this weekend's trip to face England, while George North is named among the replacements. He's done a great job so I'm watching him particularly closely.

"You can't argue with Eddie's ambition and their record in the past couple of seasons". That's going to be interesting. I've taken my chances and I'm enjoying it, that's all I can ask for.

"He has so much gas, he does his speed work with the backs", said England coach Eddie Jones. "It's probably the easiest of the three tours, isn't it?"

A couple of years ago, there was an edginess to Gatland as Wales struggled to repeat the success of his first five years.

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Wales also claimed a Twickenham triumph during the 2015 World Cup that accelerated England's tournament demise and prop Evans said: "It's Wales versus England, and I know there is a lot of hype there, but we are really happy with the result last week and so there is a good vibe in the squad". We will have to be at our best to stop them. It's going to be a different challenge [on Saturday], but we have won there before. We trained against the England pack in Bristol in the autumn and that was good. I don't think we've scrummed as well as that in the time I've been in charge of England.

Former Biggar Rugby Club ace Scott Lawson came on as a 69th minute substitute in Scotland's nightmare start to this year's Six Nations Championship.

But Gatland had no hesitation in naming his line-up, with the only change being fit-again winger George North back on the bench ahead of Owen Watkin. The secondrow Cory Hill, who left the field against Scotland for a head injury assessment and did not return, is expected to resume full training on Thursday.

In a match that was billed as a close encounter given Scotland's resurgence and Wales downtown, it was anything but as Wales showed that there is still life in the dragon as they put a toothless Scotland to the sword.

Both countries displayed strong set-piece performances in their opening game wins against Scotland and Italy, with the scrum and lineout battle likely to be pivotal in terms of deciding Saturday's encounter.

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