England's Head Coach, Eddie Jones, has been cranking up the 'mind games' ahead of his team's crucial Six Nations clash with Wales in Cardiff and it remains to be seen if his psychological warfare has the desired effect when the Red Rose bid for a sixteenth successive Test win...
'Horrendous' Record In Wales?
England were second-best for much of their opening win of the Six Nations over France last weekend and Jones has perhaps spotted a bit of complacency creeping into a team that has now won their past fifteen matches in a row.
Jones has laid down the gauntlet to his men by suggesting t hat England need to improve their "horrendous" record in Wales and accused them of being petrified of playing in the Welsh capital.
However, the statistics don't quite back his theory up as England have won a respectable enough 21 of their 61 visits to Wales (drawn four, lost 36) and they have a 50% win ratio at the Principality Stadium (won five, drawn five), where they won 21-16 under Stuart Lancaster two years ago.
The win in Cardiff in 2015 was much-needed after Wales had previously thrashed a Grand Slam-seeking England 30-3 to claim the Six Nations title for themselves in 2013. The most recent encounter in Cardiff was a controversial one as there was the stand-off in the tunnel before the game and it is worth noting that England's victory in that fixture at the Principality came when the roof of the stadium was left open.
Opposition teams often find the atmosphere gets on top of them as the cacophony of noise is enhanced when the roof is closed in Cardiff and it is something that England have found themselves.
England have won four of their five matches at the Principality when the roof has been open but lost four of the five matches played with the roof closed.
It is no surprise that the Welsh prefer to play with a roof on as the benefit of home support is magnified and they will have been riled by Jones, who is leaving it until the last minute to decide whether the roof is open or closed on Saturday evening (both teams have to agree for the roof to be closed).
Will The Mind Games Work?
Jones has left his decision until as late as possible by claiming he "doesn't care".
Make no mistake, 'roof-gate' and claims of England being petrified of playing in Cardiff are the psychological ploys of a canny 57-year-old who has been around the block a few times. It remains to be seen if his 'mind games' have the desired effect.