Six Nations 2021: England coach expects Wales captain Jones to ‘target’ his players

Kyle Sinckler and Alun Wyn Jones clashed in Cardiff in 2019
Kyle Sinckler and Alun Wyn Jones were British and Irish Lions team-mates in New Zealand in 2017
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 27 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC iPlayer & Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport website and app, S4C

England coach Eddie Jones has warned his players to be wary of experienced Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones when the teams meet in the Six Nations in Cardiff on Saturday.

Prop Kyle Sinckler was brought off early after coming under pressure from Jones and his team-mates as England lost 21-13 in Cardiff in 2019.

“At times he [Jones] has targeted players in our team,” said Eddie Jones.

“We’ve spoken about him and we understand what he’ll be trying to do.”

Wales are unbeaten with their narrow wins against Ireland and Scotland marked by red cards for respective forwards Peter O’Mahony and Zander Fagerson.

That leaves Wayne Pivac’s side seeking a Triple Crown against England, whose coach urged his players to remain calm in the face of a team led by 35-year-old British and Irish Lion Jones.

“It’s just about making sure we maintain our composure and our control,” said Jones.

‘Al really leads from the front’ – Pivac

While the England coach is wary of the influence Jones could have on the encounter, counterpart Pivac is delighted at the impact his iconic captain continues to have on Wales.

“On the Tuesday afternoon (of a Test week) when we get a bit physical, Al really leads from the front,” said Pivac.

“The conversations we have as a group get a little more intense; the smiles are few and far between as we get through the sessions.

“Al is definitely a barometer from a coaching point of view.

“You hear me say it a lot, but he is getting better with age. Honestly, if you saw him at training you would think his birth certificate has been altered.

“I know that Al’s focus and leadership within the training sessions, in the classroom and when we are having discussions is all around how we can improve our performance, how individuals can prepare well.

“Everybody understands their roles. Nobody wants to be that guy that drops off two per cent and costs us a big moment in the game.

“These fixtures come down to one or two big moments.”

England boss Jones hopes his side edge those crunch points in Cardiff, saying: “We are evolving into a more street-smart team, but the game is about pressure situations

“While we all like to think we can handle every pressure situation, we don’t and that is the great thing about the game of rugby.

“I’m sure Alun Wyn Jones is going to be looking for those situations and we’re going to have to deal with them.”

In their last Six Nations meeting, a 33-30 defeat for Wales at Twickenham in March, 2020, England centre Manu Tuilagi was sent off and England finished with 13 men as the the visitors finished with a flourish.

A 24-13 win for England in the Autumn Nations Cup followed in Llanelli in November as Jones guided his men to victory in that tournament.

But England succumbed to Scotland at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years in the opening round of the 2021 Six Nations and Jones hopes his men can cope mentally with what awaits in the Welsh capital.

“We know that these games go down to the wire and it is about executing plays,” said Jones.

“They’re tight contests that go down to the last moment. We won one there in 2017, basically on the bell.

“And we had to win on the bell at Twickenham last year, so we’re expecting a similar sort of game.

“These sorts of game you’ve got to win not once, but maybe two or three times. Wales will keep coming and keep coming. It will be a great contest.”

Pivac eyes up bigger prize than England and the Triple Crown

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