Rugby Union

Jonathan Joseph absence a relief for Wales centre Scott Williams

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Wales centre Scott Williams has underlined the defensive degree of difficulty that absent England star Jonathan Joseph would have presented in Saturday's World Cup showdown at Twickenham.

Dazzling runner and entertainer Joseph is set to miss the Pool A clash because of injury, with England head coach Stuart Lancaster widely expected to name rugby union rookie Sam Burgess and Brad Barritt as his midfield pairing on Thursday.

Wales, in contrast, will send a tried and tested centre partnership of Williams and Jamie Roberts into battle, with Saturday's winners taking a giant stride towards the quarter-finals.

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Asked if he preferred to defend a straight ball-carrier or someone like Joseph, Williams said: "I know which one is a lot harder to defend - Jonathan Joseph.

"I wouldn't say I prefer (a straight ball-carrier) but it is a bit different. You have to make your reads if they are running hard in those lines and put in your tackles.

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"He (Burgess) is a big, physical player, so if he does play I am sure he will be carrying the ball hard. We've just got to make our tackles - that's the only thing I can say.

"Barritt has got a lot of experience as well. It is their first time playing together but they are both world-class players.

"If (Owen) Farrell plays as well, he's got a lot of experience, so it's going to be a strength for them. We're going to have to find a way through or around them.

"Maybe they will try to be more direct. I am not sure if they will change much, just maybe a little bit more direct.

"It hasn't changed too much about what our preparation has been. We just have to make sure we execute what we want to do correctly and hopefully that will be enough to win the game.

"It's the big one, isn't it? This is the one we've been focusing on over the last month or so. I think everyone is just itching to get on the field now."

Reflecting on his centre combination with Roberts, Williams added: "As centres we have been together for about four years now, so we have had plenty of time to get used to each other and have played with each other quite a bit.

"It is about understanding each other defensively and in attack, trying to second guess and be a step ahead of what you think the inside centre or outside centre is going to do.

"I like to think in the last couple of games we have shown different areas that we can attack and mix things up, so I am sure we will be mixing things up at the weekend."

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Topics:
Rugby Union
Wales Rugby
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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