WALES assistant coach Neil Jenkins has paid England centre and goalkicker Owen Farrell a huge compliment ahead of this week’s Six Nations clash at Twickenham.
Farrell’s ice-cool temperament served England well during their recent away victories over Scotland and Italy, with the quality of his performances not lost on Jenkins.
“Owen [pictured] is obviously an outstanding talent, and he has got a good coach there with his father Andy,” Jenkins said.
“He reminds me a lot of a young Jonny Wilkinson.
“When Jonny first stepped up at international level, he was a centre, as Owen is at this moment in time.
“Maybe in the long run, Owen might end up being a ten, so there are a lot of similarities. He is a very good goalkicker and a very good player.”
Victory for Wales over England on Saturday – only their second at Twickenham since 1988 – would not only secure a 20th championship Triple Crown, but also leave them two more wins away from landing a second Six Nations title and Grand Slam of head coach Warren Gatland’s four-year reign.
And Wales are optimistic their bid for Triple Crown glory will not be hampered by injuries to some of their key players.
Gatland’s squad will reconvene at their training base tomorrow after more than a dozen players were released for club duties this weekend. That list includes France-based trio Mike Phillips, James Hook and Lee Byrne, Aviva Premiership contingent Rhys Gill, Andy Powell and Craig Mitchell, plus a number who will be involved in RaboDirect Pro12 action.
So, while Gatland must hope that sizeable group all emerge unscathed, he will also keep a close on eye on the likes of giant teenage winger George North (ankle), hooker Huw Bennett (calf), back row Ryan Jones (dead leg) and skipper Sam Warburton (thigh).
Jenkins added: “There are a few battered and bruised bodies, still, but we are hoping everyone is going to be up and running by next week.
“They’ve got the weekend off, and we will see where we are on Monday and Tuesday.”
Wales opened their Six Nations campaign with a thrilling victory over Ireland in Dublin, then followed it up by capitalising on two sin-bin penalties to see off Scotland, amassing 50 points and six tries so far.
England, in contrast, have managed just two tries – both charged-down scores by stand-off Charlie Hodgson – and a total of 32 points.
“We did the job in Dublin this year, but that has gone now,” Jenkins said. “Next week will be a totally different occasion and totally different game, so we have got to make sure we are right.
“Winning in Dublin was a fantastic achievement for us, and we want to do our best to make that count at the end of the day and give ourselves a chance to win a pretty prestigious trophy.”