England wary of walking wounded Welsh

2015-09-21 20:30

Bagshot - England scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth believes Wales' injury crisis will spur them into raising their game when they face the main tournament hosts in a crunch World Cup match at Twickenham on Saturday.

England, with a 35-11 win over Fiji, and Wales, who defeated Uruguay 54-9, launched their World Cup campaigns with victories last weekend in a 'Pool of Death' also featuring two-time champions Australia.

But Wales' win in Cardiff was overshadowed by a fresh raft of injuries which saw centre Cory Allen (hamstring) ruled out of the rest of the World Cup after scoring a hat-trick against Uruguay.

Before the tournament started, Wales saw both full-back Leigh Halfpenny and in-form scrum-half Rhys Webb both ruled out of the World Cup.

England beat Wales 21-16 in last season's Six Nations but Wigglesworth did not expect they would be weaker this weekend as a result of all the enforced changes to their squad.

"No, definitely not," he told reporters at England's training base in Bagshot, south-west of London, on Monday.

"We know we are going to see the best of Wales on Saturday, which is hopefully going to bring the best out of us.

"We are under no illusions about how tough it is going to be."

Wales' injury crisis has seen experienced scrum-half Mike Phillips, a veteran of 99 Tests, including five for the British and Irish Lions, recalled to the squad by coach Warren Gatland after the New Zealander left him out of his original World Cup party.

"When you call Mike Phillips up, I think he's got 100-odd caps, it doesn't weaken them, that will only sharpen them up," Wigglesworth said.

He added that Gatland would look to make the most of a 'siege mentality' in motivating Wales.

"He will get his lads revved up but it's up to us to impose ourselves on them."

And Wigglesworth said the Twickenham crowd would also play their part.

"Twickenham had a different feel at the weekend, it was the best I've ever heard it.

"I'm sure that will be ramped up again this weekend, there will be plenty of Welsh fans in there as well but we hope our guys bring the noise."

Wigglesworth has won 24 England caps but made only eight starts.

He was much praised, as were several other England replacements, for their performance off the bench against Fiji, with Wigglesworth coming on at the relatively early stage of 52 minutes to take over from Ben Youngs.

"Things get made of this, but we are running on fresh, the others aren't so we've got to make some sort of positive impact," Wigglesworth said.

"I am always pushing for a starting place...Obviously all the lads who aren't in the starting XV are pushing all the time, that's hopefully what's making us into a good squad," the 32-year-old Saracens No 9 added.

England managed a bonus-point win over Fiji without being at their best, a result that looked increasingly good on a weekend where defending champions New Zealand managed just two tries in beating Argentina, and South Africa suffered a shock loss to Japan.

"We were happy with the result definitely, you'd have taken it beforehand," said Wigglesworth.

"There were areas to work on -- our decision-making on the ball and we may have been a bit too lateral at times."

Meanwhile, Wigglesworth said he was enjoying the perks of playing for the host nation, with England players allowed out of camp for breaks with their families.

"It's great to be able to get home and get away from it, although I did go home and get away from it by watching every World Cup game over the weekend," he explained.

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