Six Nations

Wales ready to wait on North and Biggar

2017-02-10 15:37
George North (Getty Images)

Cardiff - Wales will give George North and Dan Biggar as long as they can to prove their fitness for Saturday's Six Nations clash against England in Cardiff.

Both powerhouse wing North and flyhalf Biggar took part in Friday's training session at the Principality Stadium after coach Rob Howley named the pair in his starting side announced Thursday.

North suffered a leg injury during Wales's tournament-opening 33-7 win away to Italy on Sunday, while Biggar went off at half-time in Rome after suffering a blow to his ribs.

"They both took part in training today," Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde told reporters at the Principality on Friday.

"We are the same as we were yesterday. We will give them both as much time as possible, leading up to the game.

"Everything we have asked him (North) to do, he has been able to do.

"Obviously, we have got contingency plans in place. We've got (wings) Steff Evans and Alex Cuthbert with the squad as well.

"Everybody has got their heads on psychologically," insisted the former Wales hooker.

The 24-year-old North, already a veteran of 69 Tests, did some on-field stretching exercises as Cardiff wing Cuthbert and uncapped Scarlets flyer Evans trained as well.

If North is ruled out, the 44-times capped Cuthbert, whose 15 Test tries included a match double in Wales's 30-3 Six Nations title-winning rout of England four years ago, is in line to take over.

Wales have until an hour before Saturday's 18:50 kick-off to confirm their side.

McBryde was uncomfortable at being pressed on the exact state of North's fitness and said: "I can't go into 50/50s or 60/40s or whatever. All I can do is rely on what the medics are telling me.

"They (Biggar and North) have done everything asked of them up until now and it's obviously a close call because we are leaving it late."

If Cuthbert plays, it will be his first Six Nations appearance since he featured in Wales' 25-21 defeat by Grand Slam champions England at Twickenham last year.

Should Biggar be sidelined, Ospreys colleague Sam Davies, who impressed off the bench in the second half at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, would make his first Test start.

The 23-year, all of whose four caps have come as a replacement, showed his big-match temperament when he landed the last-second drop-goal that rescued a win for Wales at home to Japan in November.

McBryde, who played with Davies' father Nigel, a former centre, for both Llanelli and Wales, said of Sam: "He's not fazed by anything, there's a freedom about him, there's the ability to forget about what's gone on before and just focus on the present."

McBryde added: "He's mature, he's part of a 'young leaders group' we've got in the squad and he's a very confident individual.

"I've been very impressed by what he offers off the field as well as on it."

"He's fitted in really well - nothing like his father!," joked McBryde.

England are on a national record 15 successive Test wins following last week's unconvincing 19-16 defeat of France at Twickenham.

While beating England is no longer the 'be all and end all' for Wales, the rivalry is still sharp enough.

"We are neighbours, aren't we?," said McBryde. "I have got two English brothers-in-law.

"It is that English-Welsh rivalry, and wanting to get the better of your neighbour, it's as simple as that."

England coach Eddie Jones has insisted on the Principality's retractable roof remaining opening and there was a light-hearted moment on Friday when a phone went off and McBryde answered it by saying: "Eddie? Sorry mate, I am in the middle of a press conference."

Asked about the roof decision, McBryde added: "He (Jones) has just rung me now to say he has changed his mind, apparently!

"It is going to be dry tomorrow, so it won't have that much of an effect on the game."

Teams:

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans

Substitutes: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Jamie Roberts

England

15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Joe Marler 

Substitutes: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tom Wood, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te'o, 23 Jonny May

Read more on:    six nations  |  george north  |  dan biggar  |  rugby
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