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Wales need Anscombe to start - Barry John

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    11 Feb 2019     Getty Images

The five-eighths said after watching Wales' record equalling win over Italy at the weekend in the Six Nations that he hadn't changed his opinion that Anscombe should be the starting five-eighths for Wales, especially in their next outing against England.

The game is shaping as a key decider in the competition and John said Anscombe was full of inventiveness, had some lovely touches, took his fellow players into the danger areas and made things happen.

"That was the case during the autumn campaign and to a lesser degree a week ago against France in foul weather conditions," John said in his column on walesonline.co.uk.

"I've repeatedly stated Anscombe should start with Dan Biggar available to come on later in matches when the picture and outlook is in front of him, for he knows exactly what is required of him in those situations.

"But Biggar started against Italy, and unlike him, made errors, not kicking with his usual accuracy out of hand and taking other poor options with a risky cross-kick on his 22m line among them.

"He wasn't a threat with the ball in hand when given the opportunities and struggled to bring the players outside him into the game," he said.

"Anscombe, on the other hand, proved, after substituting Biggar, what he is all about by spotting unguarded space behind an onrushing Italian defence and capitalising on it with a little dink over the top for centre Owen Watkin to make the result safe.

"Watkin read it superbly as the pair worked in tandem and it's moments of sheer class like that which may be needed to unlock the England defence in the big one," he said.

In spite of equalling their best unbeaten run of 11 wins in the game - set between 1907-11, Wales still had their hardest work ahead of them against England, Scotland and Ireland, John said.

Wales spent the week in Nice preparing for Italy but they had hardly conquered Rome.

"It was routine, very mundane and I imagine nearly everyone would agree the performance raised more questions than answers.

"There was a nervous look about it from the very start but I'm not concerned because Wales have got two away fixtures out of the way with the wins.

"Facing the English and Ireland in Cardiff is a bonus and I would urge people not to worry too much because Wales has been slowly cranking it up ahead of those testing assignments," he said.