Gareth Anscombe is out, meaning Wales are forced to look in the pantry and turn to 72-cap Dan Biggar. Bafflingly, this call-up of a proven and experienced matchwinner has been met with no small amount negativity. However, a year ago many believed the now first choice Anscombe should never be called up either – such are the emotional vicissitudes of the Welsh rugby public regarding that 10 shirt of theirs. Biggar is the most known of quantities, but his selection brings onto the bench the less conspicuous Jarrod Evans of Cardiff Blues, a player whose abundance of ability with the ball will turn the heads of the rugby romantics. A classic ‘head up and play what’s in front of you’ outside-half, Evans will see some time on the pitch today.
James ‘Cubby Boi’ Davies, brother of Jon Davies, starts at seven. The flanker is perhaps better known outside of Wales as part of the Great Britain Olympic sevens team that lost to Fiji in Rio, but he is once again given the chance to bring his tenacity over the ball and in the loose flamboyance to the international shirt.
After last week, England have once again lost Ruaridh McConnochie since he was named in the original line-up, Anthony Watson – who was very good last week – replaces him, meaning the backline is as you were from the Twickenham win. There are whispers that Piers Francis at 12 could now be a permanent fixture, what price on that a year ago?
The injury to Tom Curry sees Lewis Ludlam shift to openside, and the return of Maro Itoje sees Courtney Lawes in the blindside berth.
Wales: L Williams; North, Jonathan Davies, Parkes, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; Smith, Owens, Francis, Ball, AW Jones, Wainwright, James Davies, Moriarty.
Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Lewis, Shingler, Navidi, A Davies, Evans, Watkin.
England: Daly; Watson, Joseph, Francis, Cokanasiga; Ford, Heinz; Genge, Cowan-Dickie, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Ludlam, B Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Marler, Sinckler, Kruis, Singleton, Youngs, Farrell, Tuilagi