England are unlikely to bother with much homework on Wales before the two nations clash in Cardiff this weekend.
That’s the view of England hooker Jamie George, who claims the attention of the red rose brigade will be too focussed on the World Cup itself, rather than Sunday’s Grand Slam-winning opponents at Twickenham on Sunday.
“We have not looked too much at Wales yet,” said Saracens’ Lions front rower George.
“I am not entirely sure how much we are going to look at them to be honest. World Cup pre-season type games are always interesting ones but it is coming just around the corner now and that is obviously exciting.”
So, not much thought about Wales off the field, but George reckons there will be plenty to focus once the action starts as England bid to reverse last season’s title-defining Six Nations defeat in Cardiff.
“Whenever England play Wales it is going to have an edge to it. At the end of the day it is a Test match, playing them home and away and they are both amazing opportunities to put our best foot forward and potentially right a few wrongs from that game in the Six Nations.”
The countdown to the World Cup will gather pace this weekend. While Warren Gatland’s men put their 14-match unbeaten run on the line at Twickenham, their Pool D rivals Australia will meet reigning champions New Zealand and Fiji will host Samoa.
Later in the month Wales’ opening opponents, Georgia, will meet Scotland twice as they build-up to Japan.
Uruguay, the other team in Pool D, have already played four times this summer, beating Russia and an Argentina XV and losing to Namibia and Spain. They complete their warm-up with a game against Brazil in Montevideo on 30 August.
The Fijians hammered out another warning to their World Cup rivals as they put Canada to the sword in Suva last weekend in the Pacific Nations Cup. Their 38-13 victory included six tries as they hit back from their defeat in Japan and built on their home triumph over the New Zealand Maori.
They complete their PNC Nations Cup schedule with a game against Samoa in Suva this weekend. For the former Dragons coach Kingsley Jones, now in charge of Canada ahead of their World Cup campaign, it was another defeat on their road to Japan.
Fiji, the reigning PNC champions, finally wore down the Canadians in the second half after leading by only 19-13 at the break. Among the home try scorers were Edinburgh No 8 Viliame Mata and French-based forwards Peceli Yato, Leone Nakarawa and Peni Ravai.
“It was a good effort, but there are still areas to work on. First of all we must get our basics right,” admitted Fiji skipper, Nakawara.
The last team into action this summer from Pool D will be the Georgians. Head coach Milton Haig has been joined on the coaching team by former England and British & Irish Lions coach Graham Rowntree and his training squad of 43, 28 of who play outside Georgia, have been working hard on their fitness.
They were due to play Russia in Tbilisi to kick-off their match countdown, but that fixture has now been postponed. Instead, they will meet Guinness PRO14 side Southern Kings on 27 August.
They then face back-to-back matches against Scotland, who will become the first Tier 1 nation to play in Georgia when they head to the Dinamo Arena on 31 August. The return game is at Murrayfield on 6 September.
Georgia have only played Wales once before, going down 13-6 in Cardiff in the autumn series in 2017, and will meet Gatland’s side in Aichi on 23 September in the first tournament fixture between the two nations. There will be plenty of familiar faces in their line-up as no fewer than 13 of the starting XV in the Welsh capital, and six of the replacements, are in the World Cup squad.
“We’ve spent two months assessing the players’ fitness in camp and then the next phase was preparing the players for the higher level of intensity at which we want to play. Some people have to put on muscle, some have to get stronger, some have to get faster and then others have to get fitter,” said Haig.
“That all went really well and now we just want to keep progressing. Once we hit the World Cup we want to be at a level at which we have never been before.
“The 2015 tournament was pretty good in terms of our fitness levels, but we want to go further than that and have a 20% increase. We want more and more as we go through our three training blocks.
“Already we can see body shapes changing. We want the players to be in the best condition of their lives by the time we get to the World Cup.”
Wales host England at a sold-out Principality Stadium on Saturday, 17 August, and then meet Ireland in Cardiff on 31 August.
WALES’ WORLD CUP OPPONENTS THIS SUMMER
27 August Georgia v Southern Kings
31 August Georgia v Scotland
6 September Scotland v Georgia
20 July South Africa 35-17 Australia
27 July Australia 16-10 Argentina
10 August Australia v New Zealand
17 August New Zealand v Australia
13 July Fiji 27-10 Maoris
20 July Maoris 26-17 Fiji
27 July Japan 34-21 Fiji
3 August Fiji 38-13 Canada
10 August Fiji v Samoa
31 August Fiji v Tonga
4 June Uruguay 48-26 Russia
9 June Uruguay 28-30 Namibia
15 June Uruguay 28-15 Argentina XV
22 June Uruguay 21-41 Spain
30 August Uruguay v Brazil