England coach Mitchell makes robust case for the defence

England defence coach John Mitchell
England defence coach John Mitchell Odd ANDERSEN AFP/File
3 min
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London (AFP)

England defence coach John Mitchell said the recent spate of red cards must not deter players from making dominant tackles as Eddie Jones's side prepare to take on Wales in the Six Nations.

Five dismissals scarred the weekend's round of English Premiership action while two players have been sent off in the Six Nations -- Ireland's Peter O'Mahony and Zander Fagerson of Scotland.

Rugby chiefs are cracking down on dangerous play, especially involving the head, in an effort to reduce episodes of concussion.

England on Saturday resume their Six Nations title defence in Cardiff, where a win for Wales would give them the Triple Crown following victories against Ireland and Scotland.

The visitors opened their campaign with a shock defeat to Scotland before beating Italy.

"The only thing we can control is making sure we are disciplined in our practice in terms of the height of our tackles," Mitchell said on Tuesday.

"That gives players a better chance to not be sanctioned, but ultimately you still really want to be dominant in your contact."

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac appears to have steadied the ship after a six-Test losing run during his first year in charge and they are one of only two teams still capable of winning the Grand Slam, alongside France.

"A Wales Test week is one of the best and I've been through a few of them," said Mitchell, a former All Blacks head coach. "They're extremely competitive and require us to work really, really hard for each other.

"These games often go down to the wire. We're really looking forward to it and wanting to show what we're capable of for the rest of the Six Nations."

Wales' injury situation has improved significantly ahead of the match.

Pivac was without a quarter of his original 36-man squad through injuries or suspension for the Murrayfield appointment with Scotland earlier this month.

But backs George North, Jonathan Davies and Johnny Williams are set to be in the selection mix, with only scrum-half Tomos Williams (hamstring) currently unavailable.

Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys said there was healthy competition for places.

"We understand how important the middle game of this tournament is, especially if you have won the first two, so this game is huge in all aspects," he said.

"We are all aware that this (Triple Crown) is on the line, but we don't need to talk about it, we need to talk about how we are going to play, how we are going to start (the game)."