February 8, 2018 / 3:24 PM / 16 days ago

Patchell under fire as Jones ramps up pre-match hype

LONDON (Reuters) - Welsh flyhalf Rhys Patchell was firmly in the firing line on Thursday as England coach Eddie Jones revealed that unsettling the inexperienced playmaker was part of the game plan for Saturday’s Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

Jones said the selection of Jonathan Joseph ahead of Ben Teo’o in the England midfield was because of a “gut feeling” that Joseph’s defensive qualities would put Patchell off his stride.

The England coach was in vintage form as he ramped up the pre-match hype, mentioning Patchell several times in his news conference on Thursday a few hours after naming an England team with two changes from the side that swept past Italy 46-15 in Rome.

“My gut feeling is JJ will start the game well against Wales. He is fast. Every time Patchell looks up he is going to see JJ in his vision, It’s not a great sight. We will use Ben Te’o as a finisher this week,” Jones said.

Patchell makes his second Six Nations start for the Welsh and Jones highlighted the inexperience of the 24-year-old, who is playing because of injuries to Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland and will be earning a seventh cap.

“He is a young guy, inexperienced, he is their third-choice 10. It is going to be different to playing against Scotland. Scotland couldn’t cope with the expectation. He’s got to cope with the expectation of playing well,” the Australian said.

“He has got to find guys willing to help him, because he is going to be under some heat.”

There was also a warning about Welsh expectations, which have increased considerably on the back of a 34-7 thrashing of Scotland in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff.

“They played really well in that game,” Jones said. “But it’s going to be different on Saturday. They had no expectation on them last weekend. This week they come full of expectation. Everyone has been telling them how well they played.

“They are playing in front of 82,000 people at Twickenham, they are playing against a side that loves to play at Twickenham. The 82,000 is like our 24th man. They are going to be full of energy, full of passion,” Jones said.

England won the last game between the teams at Twickenham two years ago and have won five of their last eight home matches against Wales who beat England at Twickenham in the 2015 World Cup.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson,; Editing by Ed Osmond

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