cated second-row, who writes poetry in his spare time, is a once-ina-generation player. At 6ft 5in and 18 stone, he is immensely powerful, but what sets him apart is his athleticism, which could see him pushed up to playing at blindside. Just 22, he didn’t play on a losing side last season and is being inked in as a future captain.
What to expect
If England can go unbeaten until the final game, they’ll have the chance to break the world record for consecutive wins—which stands at 18—but Wales lie in wait at an inhospitable Principality Stadium. Expect a stern examination of their world number two status as they build towards the World Cup.
State of the nation
New beginnings. In recent years, Wales have had the most settled of squads, but stagnation in the past 12 months has led to increasingly vocal demands for evolving Wales’s style of play from muscular domination to their more traditional, evasive running rugby. They have a glut of exciting, uncapped players, but can they gel in time?
Justin Tipuric (below). He spent a long time in the shadow of former captain Sam Warburton, but the Trebanosborn open-side—who wears a blue scrumcap to remind him of his home village—is a gifted ball player who links the forwards and backs with intelligence and guile. ‘Tips’ recently completed 160 tackles without missing one.
What to expect
Two steps forward, one step back. If Wales can walk the walk, after talking the talk about their evolution, they could prosper, especially with the talismanic Alun Wyn Jones at the helm and the world’s best kicker, Leigh Halfpenny, ticking the scoreboard over. Lose to Italy and it could be tears in the Principality.