Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made an early bid to shift the pressure onto England prior to their Six Nations showdown on Saturday by depicting himself as apprentice to Eddie Jones’s master.
The two sides meet on Saturday in what is set to be a pivotal fixture in determining the outcome of this year’s championship after both teams opened their campaigns with victories at the weekend.
While Jones’s already high stock has risen considerably since his appointment as England boss following 23 wins from 24 Tests played, Gatland is hardly a stranger to success.
Not only is Gatland a two-time British and Irish Lions coach, who won and drew series against Australia and New Zealand respectively, but a three-time Six Nations winner who has twice guided Wales to a Grand Slam. Mind games would appear to be afoot.
When asked if Jones can learn anything from him, Gatland said: “He doesn’t need to nick anything from me, I’m the one learning from him. He’s obviously done a great job so I’m watching him particularly closely.
“I’m just intrigued by him, the way he prepares and how he goes about doing things. You learn as much as you can from others. The game changes as you learn from watching others.”
Gatland could not resist turning up the heat on Jones’s potential leadership of the Lions to South Africa in 2021 either, adding: “He’ll do a great job if he’s Lions coach. Three-nil will be expected, it’s probably the easiest of the three tours.”
The New Zealander also felt confident enough to predict England’s team for the Twickenham showdown and suggested that Jonathan Joseph would replace Ben Te’o at outside centre.
Wales, meanwhile, have named the same XV that demolished Scotland 34-7 on Saturday, although fit-again wing George North returns to the bench.