Wales head coach Warren Gatland to select his strongest team for their opening Rugby World Cup warm-up game against England. Will Eddie Jones be following suit or use the match to make some final alterations to his final squad?
Gatland’s side play at Twickenham on Sunday, 11 August before hosting the English six days later, then home and away matches against Ireland.
Wales are 2019 Six Nations champions and have won their last 14 games….Eddie doesn’t care about records, but surely this scalp might be too tempting to hold back on with a team of maybes.
Winning at Twickenham in one of the warm-up games before the World Cup, the confidence that would give the Welsh players would be huge.
Hook, who was man of the match at Twickenham in Gatland’s first win in charge 11 years ago, will not be too concerned if Wales lose for the first time since February 2018.
He’s commented in a BBC article “If they don’t win this weekend it’s not the end of the world, it won’t affect the World Cup too much,” the 81-cap Wales international added.
“You’d expect them to win at least two games out of these four, particularly the home games, and if they can win a game this weekend or in Ireland even better, but if they lose all four it doesn’t matter.”
Hook also questioned the need for so many tough games before travelling to Japan in September. This is a good point, as who wants to perform wonderfully in the warm ups only to break a leg in the final match. Not only could these matches help some players cement a place, but it could provide an opening for someone to step up as an injury replacement.
If any player can come through these games unscathed with a good performance behind them, then they will obviously have one foot on the plane to Tokyo.
Will Wales or England win in this friendly? Firstly I often feel no rugby match is a warm up and secondly, I think this match is way too close to call. May the best team win!