The third round of the Six Nations is not far away. With Wales hosting England it is already looking to be the game of the tournament. Both are undefeated and Wales need to show some better form after their last two games.
The English are in impeccable form but what would a combined team look like?
15. Liam Williams (Wales)
There is fierce competition for the fullback shirt but I believe Williams has the edge on his competitors. With Halfpenny out, it only really leaves Elliot Daly. Daly is an exceptional player and has better qualities than Williams in some areas, like his passing. Both are quality in defence but Williams has that slight edge in attack. His pace combined with his flair enables him to score in the most outrageous circumstances.
14. Jack Nowell (England)
With all my heart I want to select North but he has just been to hit and miss recently. On the other hand, Nowell offers everything North can but which extra versatility and defence. Although he does not have the sheer physical power of North he makes up for it with agility. He is essentially a more experienced Josh Adams and thats why he gets the number fourteen shirt.
13. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
Jonathan Davies in my eyes, is one of the best outside centres in world rugby. His physicality is somewhat similar to Norths, powerful yet agile. Combine this with his creativity and his infamous hand offs, he difficult for any team to deal with. Even though he had a torrid game against England last year, his experience and talent will be needed more than ever. Thankfully Davies usually excels in the bigger occasions. England will be wary of him.
12. Henry Slade (England)
When I saw that Slade was included for the England squad I was over joyed. Slade has been exceptional for Exeter for a few seasons. His ability to play fullback, fly-half and in the centres gives him a wide rang of skills. By playing him at inside centre, it essentially gives the team another play maker and offers more creativity in the backline. Additionally, if any of your backs becomes injured he could easily slip into that position.
11. Jonny May (England)
In recent years, England have played a variety of wingers but May is definitely one of their strongest (alongside Ashton) and he is definitely no longer a ‘headless chicken’. Last weekend we saw Mays pace being utilised with those cheeky little chips and it did not dissapoint as he bagged himself a hat-trick. Wales have not looked particular strong in defence, so they will need to watch out for May’s pace and try scoring eye.
10. Owen Farrell (Vice Captain and England)
Picking Farrell was not a hard decision. The ten has been the backbone of Englands team for the last few seasons. By England playing him at fly-half it gives him the ability to kick into little pockets which usually allows May to grab a meat pie. Biggar might have been in with a shout a season or two ago but Farrell definitely gets the edge for this Six Nations.
9. Gareth Davies (Wales)
Ben Youngs is an England veteran who is always very consistent. He links up exceptionally well with Farrell which enables the two to get the ball out quickly and start wreaking havoc. On the contrary, I believe he can only operate at this level due to the strength of the English forwards. Gareth Davies on the other hand offers more try scoring prowess and his physicality has to give him the nod here.
1. Rob Evans (Wales)
The scarlets prop burst onto the international scene a few seasons ago. He is surprisingly quick off the mark for a front row, which allows him to bash his way through the tackle. He is scrummaging is largely his bread and butter, but his in the loose play is also decent. If big Mako Vunipola was injury free, he would easily wear the number one shirt.
2. Ken Owens (Wales)
He is known in the Welsh camp as ‘cannon ball Ken’ which sums up his play style. His opposite number, Jamie George offers more physicality and is arguably a better scrummager. Yet Owens has the raw passion and leadership which allows his team mates to play out of their skin.
3. Kyle Sinckler (England)
He is essentially a baby rhino, much like fellow prop Ellis Genge. He is evidently passionate about playing for England and other players can strive off his aggressive play style. The last thing any Wales player wants is Sinckler running down your channel.
4. Courtney Laws (England)
Laws will act as menace to any team he comes up against. His experience of also playing in the back row gives England the ability to field three flankers, which will give the Wales forwards a long day at the office. If Maro Itoje was fit and if Adam Beard had been on the international scene longer, Laws may not get a spot in the starting fifteen.
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Captain and Wales)
Alongside Farrell, Wyn Jones was always going to start for me. His experience as captain and his drive to push the Wales team further and further gives him the edge over Kruis. A Wales legend who would play exceptionally alongside Laws.
6. Ross Moriaty (Wales)
Typically plays his trade at eight for Wales but has vast experience at blindside too. He is a powerful runner who can get you over the gain line. Tom Curry has also been exceptional for England and shows that even with blood running down his face, he will soldier on. In my opinion, he does not have the same international experience as Moriaty.
7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
Never seems to have a bad game, even when Wales are playing awfully. Tipuric is the typical mould of any All Black, he can do all the basic skills in rugby to an expectational level. His experience at playing rugby sevens for Wales also gives him an edge in the loose. Moreover, he is pretty intelligent player and doesn’t mind the kick to.
8. Billy Vunipola
There is no one I would rather have at number eight than big Billy. He is always battering defence and getting over that ever so crucial gain line. His cousin, Taulupe Faletau offers a more expansive game plan but is sadly injured.
Written by Sam Powell