On Friday night England travel to Cardiff to confront Wales in what promises to be an explosive opener to this year’s Six Nations.
England will be desperate to exact revenge on the principality after being thrashed 30-3 on their last visit to the Millennium Stadium in 2013. But the visitor’s preparations have been disrupted by an injury crisis and they will have to take on the Welsh without a number of experienced regulars, including Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Morgan, David Wilson, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood.
LIVE: Wales vs England
In their absence, England coach Stuart Lancaster has handed five players their Six Nations debuts: Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, George Ford, Dave Attwood and George Kruis are all set to start.
Joseph and Luther Burrell form yet another midfield partnership while Dan Cole comes in at tight-head prop to win his first cap in almost a year. Billy Vunipola starts at No 8 and James Haskell returns to the blindside. Nick Easter and Danny Cipriani have been named as replacements alongside returning British and Irish Lions trio Tom Youngs, Tom Croft and Mako Vunipola.
On the other side of the River Severn, Wales coach Warren Gatland unveiled his match-day squad two days early and unsurprisingly, it is brimming with experience. Gatland has made just two changes to the side that overcame South Africa 12-9 in November.
Liam Williams drops to the bench to make way for George North, while Richard Hibbard returns to the starting line up. Sam Warburton is set to win his 50th cap.
This is the last time these fierce rivals will meet before they play each other on September 26 in Pool A of the World Cup.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Paul James, Aaron Jarvis, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips, Rhys Priestland, Liam Williams.
England: Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell), Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Dave Attwood, George Kruis, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Kieran Brookes, Nick Easter, Tom Croft, Richard Wigglesworth, Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees.
KICK-OFF: Friday, 20.05
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
England 29 Wales 18, Six Nations, March 2014
Wales 30 England 3, Six Nations, March 2013
England 12 Wales 19, February 2012
England have not won at the Millennium Stadium since February 2011
These countries have met 127 times, England have won 57 while Wales have won 56
Only four of Wales' starting XV did not start against England in 2013 (Dan Lydiate, Rhys Webb, Samson Lee and Jake Ball)
Wales to win: 1.53
England to win: 2.62
Back in 2013, England trailed by just nine points with 24 minutes left on the clock when Ken Owens won a turnover on the halfway line. Wales moved the ball through the hands and released Alex Cuthbert on the right wing, Cuthbert glided past Mike Brown on the outside and dived over in the corner to end any hopes of an English comeback.
TV: Live on BBC 1 at 20.05Reuse content