Six Nations 2015: Gatland 'playing mind games' - Gareth Thomas

By Bruce PopeBBC Sport Wales
Warren Gatland coached Wales to a 30-3 win the last time England came to Cardiff
Warren Gatland coached Wales to a 30-3 win the last time England came to Cardiff
RBS Six Nations: Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: Friday, 6 February Kick-off: 20:05 GMTCoverage: 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 revealing his team early on Monday is a tactic designed to heap pressure on England, says former captain Gareth Thomas.

The announcement for Friday's Six Nations opener in Cardiff had been set for Wednesday.

"It's a really ballsy call that Warren Gatland has named his team so early," said Thomas, capped 100 times by Wales.

"I think that's a bit of a mind game to say to England that we don't really care what you're going to bring."

Wales have made just two changes from the side that beat South Africa 12-6 in November, recalling British and Irish Lions pair wing George North and hooker Richard Hibbard.

England coach Stuart Lancaster, in contrast, will be forced into a number of changes, with tight-head prop David Wilson the latest to join a lengthy injury list.

And Thomas, who scored 40 tries for Wales as a centre, wing and full-back and won three Lions caps, believes Gatland has sent a clear message to his rival.

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)

"We've shown you our cards early, we know you're struggling for players with injuries and we're just letting you know this is what we've got," Thomas said.

"He doesn't often announce his team this early... it's a tick against their box, it's a confidence thing."

Gatland suggested he had brought forward his announcement "to give the players the best possible chance of preparation".

But Thomas believes that it is more about giving England something to worry about ahead of their visit to a packed-out Millennium Stadium, where they lost 30-3 on their last visit two years ago.

"Those players could have trained together behind closed doors, known the team and kept the team secret - they're a tight unit, they're not going to leak the team," Thomas added.

"In the psychology of sport... this is the Wales team and management sticking their chests out.

"It's a tactic and a good tactic, because what I love is the pre-hype of games like this, the kiddology between players and coaches.

"It adds more spice to the game."

*Read more from Gareth Thomas on Tuesday in his column on the BBC Scrum V site looking ahead to the 2015 Six Nations.