Six Nations 2017: Wales replacements to face England are 'game-changers'

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Six Nations 2017: Wales' Rob Evans says England is 'just another game'

Wales prop Rob Evans says the Welsh replacements for their Six Nations showdown with England have been labelled 'game-changers'.

Along with Tomas Francis, 24-year-old Evans has been rewarded with a starting place after his impact against Italy.

Nicky Smith and Samson Lee drop to the bench for Saturday's game against England in Cardiff.

"We had the message to go on and bring a lot of energy, and I think we did that," said Evans.

"Samson did the hard work, softened them up and I got the plaudits," added Francis, 24.

The props represent the only changes in the starting XV from the 33-7 win over Italy, provided that wing George North and fly-half Dan Biggar prove their fitness after thigh and rib injuries respectively.

"I'm delighted to start," said Evans. "We're a tight squad, and in training everyone's been buying in together, it's a really good feeling in the squad. Rather than 'subs', it's 'game-changers'.

"Undoubtedly England have been on fire, and haven't lost a game in however long [since the 2015 World Cup], so of course it's the game to win, but it's another game to win and keep us on the winning track."

While Evans helped Scarlets to beat former European champions Toulon and draw with current champions Saracens in the Champions Cup in December and January, York-born Francis has continued to take stick at his club Exeter Chiefs, after opting for the land of his grandmother.

"I get a bit, but there's a lot of banter at Exeter, if it wasn't that [playing for Wales] it would be another facet of banter and that's the way rugby clubs are," he added.

"I've got the anthem down phonetically, so I can sing it, and my family are all mad Welsh fans now, they all went out to Italy for my uncle's 50th birthday."

Unhappy memories of 2016

Tomas Francis
Tomas Francis was yellow carded in Wales 25-21 defeat by England in the 2016 Six Nations

Francis will hope to put his 2016 Six Nations appearance against England behind him, after he was yellow-carded and subsequently banned for eight weeks for making contact with the eye area of England prop Dan Cole at a ruck.

"Very frustrated, I'm not that kind of player, and I never intended to do that," he said.

"I have had a red card since which, again, was an innocuous incident in my head [after his boot striking the head of Harlequins' scrum-half Danny Care].

"But it doesn't faze me, I want to go out and play. I think I was unlucky with my two because they were in the weeks following changes to the interpretations."

Lego and hair-cuts

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Francis has welcomed the promotion of Exeter team-mate Jack Nowell to the England starting side, revealing that he shares Nowell's love of Lego during his spare time, as well as using the same barber.

"I do a bit of Lego when I'm in camp, a few cars. I've always done it as a kid and I wanted a hobby during the Autumn and found the Lego shop in Cardiff," Francis said.

"I've done one every week we've had a home game, I'm doing a Le Mans car this week. There's a lot of time in the [team] hotel because I'm based in Exeter, so it's good to get your mind off the game sometimes.

"I've got a wacky hairstyle too, but there's a few at Exeter, trying to make your mark, because in rugby you've got the licence to do it whereas in a normal job you couldn't get away with some of them."

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