Wales see return to fitness of two injured Lions

Wales finalising Six Nations side to face England at Twickenham on Saturday

Wales were finalising their Six Nations side on Monday night to face England at Twickenham on Saturday. What would ordinarily have been a short conversation following the bonus-point victory against Scotland was complicated by the return to fitness of two of their injured British & Irish Lions outside backs Liam Williams and George North.

North made a try-scoring return for Northampton against Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday, the wing’s first start since October, while Williams, who has not played since sustaining an abdominal strain playing for Saracens at Ospreys last month, resumed training this week.

Wales have not won at Twickenham in the Six Nations since 2012, the last time England were defeated at home in the tournament, although they were victorious there in the 2015 World Cup.

A common denominator in those two wins is the centre Scott Williams. He started at 13 in the World Cup, as he is set to do on Saturday after a commanding display against Scotland, having come off the bench six years ago to score what proved to be the winning try in the 19-12 victory. He did not feature in the 2014 and 2016 Six Nations defeats at Twickenham.


Different challenge

“Another one of those memories would be nice,” Williams said. “It is a long time ago, too long. It is going to be a different challenge from Scotland, but we have won there before, and it is definitely doable. We know it is going to be a step up: we will not get as many chances, so we need to make sure we take them.

“It was a good way to start the tournament. We showed glimpses of some really good stuff, but we left a couple of tries out there if we are being harsh.

“I am fortunate enough to have played in this competition a few times, and know how important the first game is in giving you something to build on. I said in the autumn we were changing the way we play, but it does not happen overnight. It is starting to pay off now.”

Wales are waiting to see whether the secondrow Cory Hill will be fit. He left the field after 55 minutes on Saturday for a head injury assessment and did not return.

Knee ligament damage

England have called up Richard Wigglesworth to replace the injured Ben Youngs for the match against Wales on Saturday. Youngs sustained knee ligament damage in the seven-try rout of Italy, and will miss the Twickenham match against Wales and possibly the entire tournament.

The Leicester scrum-half’s name was missing from the 32 players summoned to England’s Surrey training base on Monday, confirming Wigglesworth will provide cover for Danny Care as a replacement against Wales.

A scan undertaken on Monday afternoon will determine Youngs’s fate, and it is also an important week for Nathan Hughes, who is to be assessed by medics to see whether he will play any role in this Six Nations. His participation is threatened by a knee injury sustained in December, although the Fijian-born No 8 was expected to be back for the latter rounds. – Guardian