'It's fantastic mate, we get to play Wales again and have the chance to beat them again. There is nothing better than that!'
If Eddie Jones is frustrated by the presence test match against Wales when 6 of the starting XV that faced France are unavailable for selection then he's not showing it. His frustration may be there but there's absolutely no point in admitting that ahead of a test week. Instead, as his words above show, he's spot on with his mindset and that's what he wants his players to think too.
The squad that has been selected have an opportunity to royally ruffle Wales' feathers by inflicting a second victory over their local neighbours in the space of three months. Wales are at full strength and will be hurting after they were humbled for 60-minutes during the RBS 6 Nations. Those over the other side of the Severn Bridge have already written England off however if you look back at performances when England haven't been at full strength there's plenty for home fans to be quietly optimistic about.
The home side will be led by Dylan Hartley whose limited game time since lifting the RBS 6 Nations trophy is of absolutely no concern to his head coach, in fact it may be of benefit. Dylan has been handed the captaincy again on a 'permanent basis for this tour', it's a strategy that I like to see from Eddie Jones and part of him ensuring that no player gets too comfortable. That said I believe that his position was never in any real doubt because Dylan's abrasive style of rugby and the fact that he refuses to take any rubbish from opponents is exactly the type of leadership that this test against Wales and the tour to Australia requires. The hooker won't care one iota that his side have been written off before they run out at Twickenham Stadium and he'll be the first to get stuck in and show his team how it's done on Sunday afternoon.
If you review the 26-man squad that are preparing for this test match then there's a whole host of individuals that have points to prove or ones that feel they haven't shown their full worth in an England jersey, either recently, or ever before. Take the trio of Joe Launchbury, Dave Attwood and Courtney Lawes, none will be happy with the monopoly that everyone seems to have put on Kruis and Itoje taking the 4 and 5 jerseys for years to come. All three will view this match and as their opening opportunity to remind Eddie Jones of their own merits. Mike Brown has been under a barrage of external pressure regarding his form, as have George Ford and Marland Yarde, and all will wish to silence their critics with strong performances. Tommy Taylor and Matt Mullan are two that will be itching for solid game time having been in and around the squad for a while but perhaps most importantly Luther Burrell and Ollie Devoto have to opportunity to play their way onto the plane given Manu Tuilagi's injury. Needless to say the 80-minutes against Wales is vital for every single player that will be taking to the pitch and I'd be here until Sunday if I explained each individual's motive in turn, but I trust that you all understand my point.
There's one final factor to consider regarding Sunday's test match and that is that it's a full blown capped test. Obviously this adds a number against each individuals' name but more importantly the result will affect the World Rankings and England's goal to ensure that they're in the Top 3 by the 2019 Rugby World Cup draw that will take place in May next year. If England record a victory over Wales and then go onto take tour tests in the Summer then they'll set up a superb platform for the Autumn Internationals and beyond.
The long and the short of it is that we're in for a test match that's filled with motivation, in spite of many believing it to be a nuisance and pointless. Although it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work it out Eddie Jones will announce his starting XV and bench on Friday and personally I can't wait to see what this group of players can do on home soil.
England Senior 26-man squad for Old Mutual Wealth Cup against Wales
Forwards: Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby) Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers) Jack Clifford (Harlequins) Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers) Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints) James Haskell (Wasps) Paul Hill (Northampton Saints) Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby) Joe Launchbury (Wasps) Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints) Matt Mullan (Wasps) Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins) Tommy Taylor (Wasps)
Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins) Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) Danny Care (Harlequins) Elliot Daly (Wasps) Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs) George Ford (Bath Rugby) Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby) Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby) Marland Yarde (Harlequins) Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)Suggest a correction