England to pick same team for Wales clash for first time in Steve Borthwick’s tenure

Steve Borthwick at England training before the Six Nations match against Wales
Steve Borthwick has picked an unchanged XV and stuck with the players who won in Rome - Getty Images/Dan Mullan

England head coach Steve Borthwick is poised to name an unchanged starting XV for the first time in his reign for the visit of Wales to Twickenham on Saturday.

After opening their Guinness Six Nations campaign with a win for the first time in four years in their 27-24 victory against Italy, Borthwick is set to keep changes to a minimum. Telegraph Sport understands that vice-captain Ellis Genge has been passed fit after pulling out of last week’s match just a couple of hours before kick off. Barring any late changes, he is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench where he will be replace Bath’s Beno Obano. Should the rest of the bench remain the same then Immanuel Feyi-Waboso would be in line for his first home England Test at Twickenham against the country of his birth.

A number of other likely England starters including Harlequins fly-half Marcus Smith, Bath centre Ollie Lawrence and Leicester Tigers second row George Martin are still unavailable for this weekend but could come into contention later in the Championship.

In contrast, Wales head coach Warren Gatland, who brought forward his team announcement by 24 hours, has made seven changes from the side that lost 27-26 to Scotland, including a brand new front row and half back pairing.

Having slumped to a 27-0 deficit, Wales fell just short of a thrilling comeback at the Principality Stadium, scoring 26 unanswered points, and England attack coach Richard Wigglesworth believes Gatland’s team will come to Twickenham with a sense of momentum on their side.

“I saw the result before we watched it, because we were at a function, and my first thought was ‘this isn’t a 27-0 game’,” Wigglesworth said. “It wasn’t like they’d been awful and Scotland were amazing. It was that Scotland took their chances and Wales wouldn’t have been happy with a couple of things that happened. And then everything flipped. The discipline went the other way and they started getting all the momentum and all the field position. They did a good job of converting points. But they will come with the intention of playing more like they did in the second half than the first.

“They have got the talent. They’ve got a good amount of threats in them, a good amount of speed and ball play. We would fully expect that to come, but what we also saw was that they kicked the ball very early in phase count inside their own half. I think the break-aways are opportunistic, which is great from their point of view.”

Probable England XV

F Steward; T Freeman, H Slade, F Dingwall, E Daly; G Ford, A Mitchell; J Marler, J George, W Stuart, M Itoje, O Chessum, E Roots, S Underhill, B Earl

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