England’s Jonathan Joseph has ruled out the prospect of stumbling into a Welsh ambush at Parc y Scarlets as he knows a victory for the hosts would propel their fierce rivals out of the doldrums.
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac is under pressure, with last weekend’s victory over Georgia halting a losing sequence of six Test matches that is expected to resume when Eddie Jones’ odds-on Autumn Nations Cup favourites visit Llanelli on Saturday.
Experience has taught Joseph to avoid the mistake of underestimating opponents even when they appear vulnerable as a place in the competition final – most likely against France – looms on the horizon.
“I’m not going to fall into that trap. If you do as a team, you find yourself in an arm wrestle and not playing to the standards you should be,” the Bath centre said on Friday.
“There have been times in my earlier career where as a team – and not necessarily with England – we’ve played a lesser team, some would say, and we’ve been abysmal and terrible.
“We’d looked at their form and got carried away with that. That’s definitely not something we do here with England.
“Wales have lost a few games recently and I’m sure people are getting into them a bit, but they’ll look at this game as the chance to turn their season around.
“For most countries, England is the game they definitely want to win. We know we’ve got a huge battle on our hands and we’ve prepared like we would for any other game.
“We know how big a challenge it is playing Wales, it’s always one of our biggest games and we have to be right up there mentally and preparation wise.”
Joseph will continue to perform a roaming role off the right wing in his third successive start in the unfamiliar position having spent the vast majority of his career as an outside centre.
It was an experiment that showed promise against Georgia when Joseph set up a dazzling try for Elliot Daly, but space in the defence-orientated 18-7 victory over Ireland was far more limited.
“It’s slightly different being on the wing, but the way we play here possibly suits my strengths a little bit more to be out wide,” Joseph added.
“I’m more of a roaming centre, trying to get my hands on a bit more space. It frees me up a little bit to get my attacking game going.”
With Jones loading his midfield with playmakers George Ford, Owen Farrell and Henry Slade, there should be plenty of ammunition for Joseph to help ignite an attack that has spluttered so far this autumn.
Ford has been reinstated at fly-half following Ollie Lawrence’s hip injury and, in the absence of the Worcester centre, England lack a recognised ball-carrying presence in midfield.
“It won’t be too different without Ollie there. We play a certain style that allows us to adapt and play to our strengths. We’ve seen this combination many times before and we’ve been good,” Joseph said.
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