Six Nations: Gatland targets England's inexperienced midfield

Mike Catt talks tactics with Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph
England backs coach Mike Catt talks tactics with Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph, who joined Bath from London Irish in 2013.
RBS Six Nations: Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: Friday, 6 February Kick-off: 20:05 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website, S4C online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

Wales coach Warren Gatland says his team have to make life as, "uncomfortable as we can," for England's inexperienced midfield in Friday's Six Nations opener in Cardiff.

The English trio of George Ford, Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph have a combined total of 19 caps.

Wales' Dan Biggar, Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies have amassed 135 Wales appearances and six Lions Test matches.

"We've got to use that to our advantage," Gatland told BBC Wales.

"On average we're a year older in the forwards and the backs and significantly have a little more experience in terms of numbers of caps.

"That combination with them is pretty new, and in that sort of white-hot atmosphere of a full house at the Millennium Stadium, we've got to make it as uncomfortable as we can for them and make sure that unit for them doesn't operate."

Wales' Six Nations fixtures:
Friday, 6 February: England (Cardiff)
Sunday, 15 February: Scotland (Murrayfield)
Saturday, 28 February: France (Paris)
Saturday, 14 March: Ireland (Cardiff)
Saturday, 21 March: Italy (Rome)

England are without a number of regular players for Friday's match, with Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, David Wilson, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood and Ben Morgan all unavailable because of injury.

Morgan's broken leg has given Billy Vunipola a chance at number eight, while in the second row, where England have been hit hardest by injury, Bath's Dave Attwood will partner Saracens lock George Kruis, who has not played for three weeks after being banned for a dangerous tackle.

Gatland believes that England head coach Stuart Lancaster's selection - which shows six changes from the side that beat Australia in the autumn - means England will come to the Millennium Stadium "to play rugby".

"I did suggest that they might have kicked the leather off it, but I don't think they'll do that," he said.

George Ford
Bath fly-half George Ford will be joined at the Rec by Wales' Rhys Priestland in the 2015-16 season.

"I think Ford will attack us, but I don't think England have got anything to lose by going out and trying to play rugby because they've got the ability to take any team in the world on up front, so that's a challenge and I think we'll see a great game.

"They've got a number of injuries, but there's probably four or five of their top line players who are injured and we had that problem last year.

"At the moment we're in the position of being pretty healthy [and] I feel sorry for England because we've been in that position, but you can't get caught-up in that.

"There's so much speculation, so much chat about the England injuries and people making an issue of it [but] if we get caught up in that then our focus on the game has gone a little bit and .... we're going to struggle in the game."

The match will be played in the open air after England insisted that the Millennium's Stadium's retractable roof should be left open.

Gatland had challenged England to play under a closed roof with the extra atmosphere that can generate.

However, after agreeing to its closure on a wet day in the 2013 championship and seeing his Grand Slam-chasing side humbled 30-3 in front of a delirious home crowd, Lancaster has opted to keep the roof open on what is forecast to be a cold but dry evening in Cardiff.

Both teams have to agree if the roof is to be closed.

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