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Sunday 28 May 2017

England's nemesis waiting in wings to replace North

Wales wing Alex Cuthbert. Photo: PA
Wales wing Alex Cuthbert. Photo: PA

Alex Cuthbert - England's two-try nemesis when Wales crushed their Grand Slam hopes four years ago - is on red alert to start today's Six Nations showdown in Cardiff.

Wales are giving wing George North, a scorer of 28 tries in 66 Tests, the maximum possible time to recover from a leg injury.

He was involved in the Wales captain's run yesterday, but it is understood his fitness fight could be a losing one.

Cuthbert, who has won 44 caps but not started a Six Nations game since Wales lost to England at Twickenham last season, also took part in the Principality Stadium run-out, as did uncapped Scarlets speedster Steff Evans.

Cuthbert claimed two second-half touchdowns during the 2013 clash in Cardiff, when Wales' record 30-3 victory not only denied England a tournament clean sweep, it meant the home team were crowned Six Nations champions on points difference.

Fly-half Dan Biggar, though, is thought to be less of a fitness concern after going off at half-time against Italy in Rome following a blow to the ribs. Biggar and North were both named in Wales' starting XV on Thursday.

England are chasing a fourth successive Six Nations victory over Wales and they arrived in Cardiff yesterday as favourites, seeking a 16th win on the bounce against all opponents.

Wales currently show just two changes from the side that beat Italy 33-7, with props Rob Evans and Tomas Francis handed starts after impressing off the bench at Stadio Olimpico.

England will face Wales at a hostile Principality Stadium with a rookie back row that sees Jack Clifford replace Tom Wood.

In the only other change to the starting XV that dispatched France, Jack Nowell is picked on the right wing in a move that sees Jonny May also relegated to the replacements.

wales v england (today, 4.50, live rtÉ2/bbc1)

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