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Anscombe relishing decisive Six Nations showdown

22nd February 2019

Gareth Anscombe is determined to thrive upon the pressure after being handed the Wales number 10 jersey for tomorrow's Guinness Six Nations clash with England.

With both sides unbeaten to date, the Principality Stadium clash is likely to prove decisive in the Championship and England head coach Eddie Jones has stoked the flames. 

He has labelled Warren Gatland’s men as the greatest Welsh team of all time and claimed it is the biggest game of their careers.

However, Anscombe has played down the hype and is relishing the occasion as Wales look to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Anscombe said: “Obviously, it’s a big game. I suppose the selectors could have gone a handful of ways, so I am really pleased and excited for the opportunity. It’s a huge game with a lot riding on it so it is going to be nice to play a part in it. 

“I’d like to think that I have played in a fair few big games and obviously this is one of them. It is important that we treat it just like any other rugby match. 

“It’s going to be a huge occasion and I think there will be a special atmosphere in the stadium. We know what’s coming. They have been pretty clinical in the first twe weeks, and are probably favourites for the game but we are fairly comfortable where we are at.”

Unsurprisingly there has been fierce debate around the number 10 jersey and Anscombe was handed the opportunity ahead of Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell and regional teammate Jarrod Evans.

The 27-year-old faced several of England’s stars not only from the bench in last season’s encounter but in the 2011 Junior World Cup final, where he racked up a match-winning 18-point haul. 

He further emphasised his big match temperament as he kicked a late winner in last season’s European Challenge Cup final triumph, and he knows accuracy from the tee will be crucial.

“It seems to be a hot topical debate for the Welsh public and media at the moment,” added Anscombe. 

“It certainly is one that people like debating about. The good thing with us in camp is that myself, Biggs, Patch and Jarrod all get along really well. There’s genuinely a lot of trust, a lot of respect between each other.

“I guess I have been given the chance to represent us as a whole this week. I want to make sure I do my job well and make them proud too.

“I had a fairly successful autumn but you’re only as good as your last game so I’m looking to improve from the French performance and the Italy performance.

“Goalkicking will probably play a big part on Saturday. Although I haven’t kicked much at international level – I feel like my club form over the years has been more than consistent. 

“It is up around 80 per cent so it would stand up pretty well against a lot of goalkickers. It’s now important that I transfer that success to the next level. 

“With that comes a bit more pressure but I have been working hard with Jenks over the last few weeks and I’m sure hopefully that my hard work will pay off on Saturday.”

And while Anscombe was born and raised in New Zealand, he was always very much aware and proud of his Welsh roots – he even more a 50-50 red and black jersey. 

He added: I knew I was Welsh growing up. My mother was born and bred in Cardiff and my two grandparents were here in Fairwater.

“I guess my mother is really proud that I get to pull on a red jersey and although both her parents aren’t here anymore with us they always let me know about my Welsh heritage. 

“I had a New Zealand jersey cut in half with a Welsh jersey and I used to wear that as a little kid around the field running round. 

“It’s a really proud moment for me and every time I get a chance to wear that famous red jersey it’s a huge honour and it certainly makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you run out at that famous stadium we have. 

“It’s going to be an awesome occasion and a big game like Eddie has been saying and it’s one I’m really looking forward to. These are the reasons why we play the game – to get into this environment and atmosphere and it’s going to be pretty special.”