Published: Fri, February 22, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Maro Itoje Ruled Out Of Six Nations Showdown

Maro Itoje Ruled Out Of Six Nations Showdown

Maro Itoje will miss England's Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday as expected, forwards coach Steve Borthwick confirmed.

Called England prop Kyle Sinckler a "timebomb" whose temperament was suspect.

They could win nine straight matches at home for the first time since 1999.

Exeter Chiefs back Nowell returns to the England side after he was dropped to the bench for the 44-8 win over France two weeks ago, while club team-mate Moon will make his first Six Nations start. "He is aware of it, as are other players". He has already scored four tries in this year's Six Nations and five in his last three Tests for England. Emotionally he can be a bit of a timebomb.

Scarlets ace Davies, who captained Wales to victory over Italy last time out, said: "It's a massive game with two teams both two wins from two".

Elsewhere, Exeter's Ben Moon has been handed the task of filling the pretty influential boots of Mako Vunipola - the Saracen is out with an ankle injury.

"It's a big week for them and there's a lot of expectation". I am not saying anything that people aren't aware of.

It is this big-match nous that Gatland suspects Wales's rivals might be lacking.

That means we are in for a treat on Saturday with the two old enemies coming together for what's set to be pulsating Principality Stadium pitch battle. They kept going and going at them.

Gatland said he was astounded that Jones has decided his squad will not leave Surrey until after lunchtime on Friday (Saturday NZT).

Wales' triumphs in 1908 and 1909, although won during the Home Nations era, were the first Grand Slams as they defeated France in both seasons.

Gatland has opted to go with Gareth Anscombe at fly-half rather than Dan Biggar. They have been very clinical in taking their chances. "That's going to be an experience for them". They're up for winning 12 games in a row.

"It's all about Wales, we are playing potentially the greatest team ever". It's a long way off. He's talking about us.

However Gatland is confident about his side's ability to spring a surprise, as he named Gareth Davies and Gareth Anscombe as his halfbacks.

England have scored a try within the opening four minutes of their last five Tests, and in eight of the past 14 since the start of 2018.

"We know how important this game is for the rest of the championship". I don't know about their camp.

England defence coach John Mitchell said on Monday that Itoje was "progressing really well".

Gatland is disappointed by England insisting on the roof being open.

England sit at the top of the 2019 Six Nations table despite having beaten fewer defenders than any other team (29) and missed more tackles (61) than anyone else, Wales have the best tackle success rate of any side (90%). Defensively we have to listen to Shaun Edwards' instructions and we need to bring our line speed all through the game and not switch off at all. Gatland saw the humour in that. "And it's only England".

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