Warren Gatland (Gallo)
London - "Pool of Death" rivals
England and Wales meet in the biggest clash of the Rugby World Cup so far on
Saturday, as South Africa skipper Jean de Villiers battles for his Test future.
The England-Wales encounter at Twickenham
will renew one of rugby's oldest rivalries in rugby. England have won 58 and
Wales 56 of their 126 matches since 1881.
But Saturday's match will be a modern-era
deadlock breaker as the two have won five matches each since Warren Gatland
took over as Wales coach in 2008 and revived the national side.
The stakes are higher as this is the World
Cup and whoever loses will have a mountain to climb to get one of two
quarter-final places from Pool A. Both teams still have to face world number
two ranked Australia.
"For us as a nation, this is the
biggest game we've had for a long time against England," said Gatland, who
has had to surmount a host of injury worries.
The New Zealander lost star full-back Leigh
Halfpenny and scrum-half Rhys Webb to injury before the tournament.
Gatland called up wing Hallam Amos for just
his fifth cap only two days after his 21st birthday.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has hit
selection controversy. He has brought rugby league convert Sam Burgess into the
team with precious little international experience and recalled Owen Farrell in
place of George Ford at flyhalf.
Lancaster's reputation is on the line.
"It was always going to be the case
for this game and the one against Australia," he said. "Clearly the
selection has heightened it.
"If we win the game it will be judged
a success. If we lose the game, regardless of what selection I made, I'd be
"It will come down ultimately to the
next two games. I understand the consequences and the stakes because it's the
The writing is also on the wall for South
Africa coach Heyneke Meyer and de Villiers if the Springboks do not restore
national pride against Samoa in the Pool B match in Birmingham.
De Villiers had expected to be dropped
after Japan inflicted the biggest shock in World Cup history with a 34-32 win
over South Africa last Saturday.
But Meyer has kept faith with the
34-year-old centre and brought back other experienced big guns in a bid for the
strong victory that the two-time world champions need to restore confidence.
"After the backing that the coach has
given me, I have to perform and show that I deserve that opportunity,"
said de Villiers. "I'm very aware of the criticism he has undergone for
Meyer has called up three players nominated
for the World Rugby player of the year award over the last two years - lock
Eben Etzebeth, No 8 Duane Vermeulen and fullback Willie Le Roux.
Stephen Betham, coach of the Samoa side who
beat the United States, is braced for a full-blooded encounter.
"We are expecting a fired up South
African side: a side that is out to prove a point, a side that is hungry for a
win," said Betham, who has predicted "massive warfare."
Italy play Canada in the day's third game
at the Elland Road home of Leeds United football club, with both countries
looking for a first win in Pool D.
Canada will be hoping veteran Jamie Cudmore
does not get another sin-bin after they conceded 19 points in the 10 minutes he
was out during a 50-7 defeat by Ireland.
Italy lost 32-10 to France last week and
are badly missing inspirational captain Sergio Parisse who is still not ready
to return from injury.