RWC 2015: England vs Wales - Scott Williams glad to avoid Jonathan Joseph threat

Joseph will miss the Anglo-Welsh clash due to a pectoral injury

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The Independent Online

Wales' challenge at Twickenham has been made easier without the threat of Jonathan Joseph, according to the Scarlets centre Scott Williams.

Williams is set to start alongside Jamie Roberts at centre on Saturday against a rejigged England midfield, in the wake of Joseph being ruled out of the World Cup pool match.

The England head coach, Stuart Lancaster, will today announce a centre partnership of Sam Burgess and Brad Barritt but Williams said of the pair: “I know which one is a lot harder to defend against, Jonathan Joseph. I wouldn’t say I prefer but it’s different.”


Wales too have been forced to overhaul their long-term centre partnership, with Jonathan Davies having been ruled out of the tournament.

His replacement Williams said he was undeterred by the prospect of playing against rugby league convert Burgess and backed Wales’ own mountain Jamie Roberts to diminish the threat.

“We’ve got one in our team, haven’t we?” he said. “That will be an interesting battle. Jamie is a really good ball carrier as well so, hopefully, it will be a good challenge.”

The Wales assistant coach, Rob Howley, was more conservative in his assessment of England’s new centre partnership, warning: “It’ll be a challenge if Sam is playing at 12 at the weekend.”

Asked for his views on a player he met on the 2013 Lions tour, Howley added: “He’s an imposing figure. I was impressed when he played with [Henry] Slade against France. He has the ability to run hard lines and having that creative edge outside makes it difficult defensively.”

The Wales head coach, Warren Gatland, will announce his team to face England at 11am today with injury doubts still over his starting XV.

Liam Williams has been given the all-clear while Aaron Jarvis is also available for selection despite popping a rib cartilage at the weekend.

The major doubts rest on props Samson Lee and Paul James, with Howley admitting: “Samson is further in front than Paul. We’ll just have to wait and see. With our medical team we’ve got trust in them making that call and it’s hour by hour.”

Wales have already put other props on standby for a late call-up. Under Rugby World Cup guidelines, each team needs to have four fit props available for selection. Were Lee and James ruled out, Wales would be down to three, although a late change to the squad can be made.

“There are props on standby,” said Howley, “and we’re waiting to make that call when we need to.”