George Ford has placed England on RED alert by warning that Wales will “do anything” to beat their greatest rivals today.
England are hot favourites to hand Wayne Pivac’s side their seventh defeat in eight games and reach the Autumn Nations Cup final.
Wales are still reeling from their worst Six Nations since 2007 and have plunged to ninth in the world order – their lowest position for eight years.
These are desperate times for a team which only last year reached the World Cup semi-finals and were crowned Grand Slam champions.
The bookies don’t give them a prayer against an England side which overpowered Ireland a week ago to knock New Zealand off No.2 spot in the rankings.
Yet Ford bears the scars from the 2015 World Cup when the “no-hope” Welsh won at Twickenham to tee England up for a humiliating pool exit.
The fly-half warned: “We’re coming up against a team that will do anything to win the game – and that makes Wales a different beast.
“Every guy playing in the red shirt is going to do everything he can to win this game. Being (written off) can galvanise a team and bring the best out of them. That’s something we need to be aware of 100 per cent.”
This is not an isolated view. Eddie Jones has spent time listening to the Stereophonics’ anthem “As Long as We Beat the English” to remind him of what’s coming.
An empty Parc y Scarlets will, of course, be far removed from the febrile atmosphere generated by a jam-packed Principality Stadium with the arch enemy in town.
Yet Ford vowed: “We’re preparing for the best possible Wales performance. What we’ve done up to this point is not going to be good enough.”
Half-back partner Ben Youngs concurred: “Wales-England is a game in which form and past results go out the window. They are irrelevant.”
Jonathan Joseph added: “We know we’ve got a huge battle on our hands. We have to be right up there mentally and preparation wise.”
If England’s actions match their words Wales will be in for a long afternoon. A week ago Jones’ forward pack devoured the Irish, who had thrashed the Welsh a week earlier.
But they will be mindful of the words of Lloyd Williams, who played in two of Wales’ greatest upset wins over England in 2013 and 2015, and who today starts his first Test in four years.
“Wales play the underdog quite well and it’s something the boys relish,” he said. “It’s usually the case against England and it excites the players.”
WALES: Halfpenny; Adams, Tompkins, J Williams, Rees-Zammit; Biggar, Lloyd Williams; W Jones, Elias, Lee, Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Lewis-Hughes, Botham, Faletau.
Replacements: Dee, Carre, Francis, Rowlands, Wainwright, Webb, Sheedy, Watkin.
ENGLAND: Daly; Joseph, Slade, Farrell (capt), May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Launchbury, Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Stuart, Hill, Earl, Willis, Robson, Watson.