Warren Gatland has told his players to climb into England tomorrow in Cardiff – but warned them to stay within the laws.
The Wales coach has joined Eddie Jones in a spot of mind games before the Six Nations showdown, although his appear a more subtle attempted manipulation than the Australian’s brash claims that the home side are the greatest ever to wear the red jersey.
Instead, Gatland has predicted a brutal physical contest, warning his players to stay on the right side of the referee and suggesting England prop Kyle Sinckler is a “time bomb” who could detonate at any moment.
“There is no doubt it’s going to be incredibly physical with a lot of passion involved, said Gatland. “Discipline is going to be paramount.
“I want my players to bring that physicality and be emotional, but I don’t want them going over the top, losing their edge or getting involved in foul play.
“One thing I can’t stand about the game is foul play. We want to play tough and hard, bring as much physicality as we can, but playing to the laws of the game.
“This has become a really big game for both of us, not so much for the Six Nations, but building for the rest of the year, World Cup plans and preparations and for Japan.
“They are a quality side. They have strength in depth. It is going to be a great challenge, and we are excited to play at home against a team who are really on form at the moment.
“Win this game, I think it sets you up mentally as much as anything for the rest of the year.”
Harlequins forward Sinckler has twice been involved in incidents during this season’s tournament – in the opener against Ireland he became embroiled in an exchange with flanker Peter O’Mahony.
In the France game eight days later he was reminded of “rugby’s values” by match referee Nigel Owens after slapping Les Bleus forward Arthur Iturria on the head.
“There is a challenge sometimes with his temperament. He’s aware of it. Other players are aware of it. We’ve already seen in the Six Nations that he has been involved in a couple of incidents.
“Hopefully, we don’t get dragged into that on Saturday. Emotionally, he can be a bit of a time-bomb. I am not saying anything that people aren’t aware of.
“Look, we won’t be going out there trying to antagonise him, because that’s not in our make-up. We will just go out there and play.
“Hopefully, he goes out and has a good game and is able to keep his emotions in control, because that’s a big challenge for him.”
Gatland will step down as Wales boss after the World Cup, and he has been linked with possibly becoming Jones’ eventual England successor.
“Just speculation,” Gatland said. “I think my name has been mentioned with half a dozen jobs. My plan is to see out the rest of the year, and then see what else is available.”
Asked about Jones’ assertion that Saturday’s game is the biggest in the Wales players’ lives, Gatland added: “He’s taking the mick. He’s talking about us.
“It’s a big game, but it’s not the biggest game we’ve played in. It’s only against England!”