02222018

Jones questions Patchell ‘bottle’ but Wales laugh off comments

England boss Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones said Wales see themselves “on a self-proclaimed roll at the moment”

Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell faces “enormous pressure” and a “massive step up” in the Six Nations on Saturday, says England boss Eddie Jones.

The inexperienced Scarlets playmaker was instrumental as Wales crushed Scotland in Cardiff last weekend.

But Jones feels Patchell is one of a number of Wales players who could “struggle with the expectation”.

“It’s whether he has the bottle to handle it. We’ll find out on Saturday,” Jones said.

“He hasn’t played much Test rugby at all. He is going to have [Chris] Robshaw at him, [Owen] Farrell at him, [Danny] Care at him – all guys that have played a lot of Test rugby.

“Wales see themselves on a self-proclaimed roll at the moment. So we will see how they deal with Twickenham, and deal with us.”

Warren Gatland’s side were considered underdogs by some before the match with Scotland, but produced a resounding performance to beat the Scots 34-7.

They have named an unchanged side, with seven of the starting XV having never played an international at Twickenham before.

Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde refused to get involved in any verbal jousting with Jones and backed Patchell’s ability to deal with the pressure of the occasion.

“I’m not going to try, I know better,” he said. “He’s obviously got a few things to get off his chest and hopefully he’ll feel better for it.

“Anyone wearing the number 10 jersey is going to expect to be put under pressure.

“Patchell is surrounded by players from his own region [Scarlets] and that familiarity under the pressure of international rugby… hopefully his game will stand up. We saw last Saturday it was good to watch.”

‘Twickenham is going to be different for them’

England boss Jones believes the relative ease of Wales’ win over Scotland means they now have to cope with increased expectation as well as the pressure of Twickenham.

“They had nothing to lose, and they played with a great freedom. Now they have expectation, and they have to cope with that,” Jones told BBC Sport.

“It’s going to be different – they have a number of young players, we have an experienced side who love playing in front of 82,000 people that’s going to pose a completely different question.”

Having won back-to-back Six Nations titles, Jones says his side are happy to live with their own weight of expectation from England supporters.

“Having been an England coach for two years, the expectation is we win every game – that’s something we carry around with us every time,” he said.

“We relish that. We don’t care if we are favourites or underdogs.”

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