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RBS 6 Nations 2011: Wales v England Preview

Wales v England will kick off the RBS 6 Nations 2011 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, this evening, at 19:45 CET (20:45 CET) to lift the curtain on the Northern Hemisphere’s biggest international rugby union tournament.

Wales Absentees

Wales are without the following players, who are all injured or suspended for the opening RBS 6 Nations event against England:

  • Gethin Jenkins (toe)
  • Adam Jones (elbow)
  • Leigh Halfpenny (sprained ankle)
  • George North
  • Tom Shanklin (knee surgery)
  • Andrew Bishop
  • Toby Faletau
  • (Richie Rees is suspended)

Wales Starting XV

  1. Paul James – Ospreys
  2. Matthew Rees – Scarlets
  3. Craig Mitchell – Ospreys
  4. Bradley Davies – Cardiff Blues
  5. Alun-Wyn Jones – Ospreys
  6. Dan Lydiate – Newport Gwent Dragons
  7. Sam Warburton – Cardiff Blues
  8. Andy Powell – London Wasps
  9. Michael Phillips – Ospreys
  10. Stephen Jones – Scarlets
  11. Shane Williams – Ospreys
  12. Jonathan Davies – Scarlets
  13. Jamie Roberts – Cardiff Blues
  14. Morgan Stoddart – Scarlets
  15. James Hook – Ospreys

Wales Replacements

  • Richard Hibbard – Ospreys
  • John Yapp – Cardiff Blues
  • Ryan Jones – Ospreys
  • Jonathan Thomas – Ospreys
  • Dwayne Peel – Sale Sharks
  • Rhys Priestland – Scarlets
  • Lee Byrne – Ospreys

England Absentees

England have not suffered nearly so much as Wales through injuury this season, though they are without the folllowing players:

  • Lewis Moody (knee ligaments)
  • Courtney Lawes (knee ligaments)
  • Tom Croft (shoulder)
  • Steve Borthwick (shoulder)
  • Hendre Fourie (calf)

England Starting XV

  1. Andrew Sheridan – Sale Sharks
  2. Dylan Hartley – Northampton Saints
  3. Dan Cole – Leicester Tigers
  4. Louis Deacon – Leicester Tigers
  5. Tom Palmer – Stade Francais
  6. Tom Wood – Northampton Saints
  7. James Haskell – Stade francais
  8. Nick Easter – Harlequins
  9. Ben Youngs – Leicester Tigers
  10. Toby Flood – Leicester Tigers
  11. Mark Cueto – Sale Sharks
  12. Shontayne Hape – Bath Rugby
  13. Mike Tindall – Gloucester Rugby
  14. Chris Ashton – Northampton Saints
  15. Ben Foden – Northampton Saints

England Replacements

  • Steve Thompson – Leeds Carnegie
  • David Wilson – Bath Rugby
  • Simon Shaw – London Wasps
  • Joe Worsley – London Wasps
  • Danny Care – Harlequins
  • Jonny Wilkinson – RC Toulon
  • Matt Banahan – Bath Rugby

The stage is set for a great encounter in Wales, which has not been a happy hunting ground for England in recent years: since 2005, England have lost three from three in Cardiff.

However, that included games against a stronger Wales team than this injury-ravished first XV, so Wales will need their home support to lift them if they are to beat this England side that is currently favourite to win RBS 6 Nations 2011.

Throughout 2010, including much of last years 6 Nations Tournament, Wales showed themselves to be a little Jekyll and Hyde in matches, often failing to get going in the first 40 minutes, as against England last year. Any repeat of that this evening will surely see finishers like Ashton and Foden put England out of sight. If they can stop England’s pacey and skilful backs, however, they should at least be able to match England up-front.

Wales have got an explosive outlet of their own, in Shane Williams, even though his recent injuries and the aging process may just have ever so slightly dulled his raw pace this time around: he still poses a real threat to any defence; Wales, it is felt, will need every bit of that, if they are to get a result here.

Expect noise, entertainment and points from this first Friday of RBS 6 Nations 2011.

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