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England believe they are involved in a high-stakes “poker game” as they prepare to face Wales on Sunday morning (NZ time), with none of the leading contenders for the Rugby World Cup showing their true hands as they aim for a jackpot payout in Japan in two months’ time
Nonetheless, England could scoop a sizeable pot at the Principality Stadium were they to beat Wales by 16 points, a margin of victory that would make them the top-ranked side in the world regardless of results anywhere else, a status they have not held since the heady days of 2004.
It would be a notch on the belt no matter if it were to be short-lived, given the complex nature of the ranking permutations with New Zealand, Wales and Ireland all capable of leading the table if England do not pull off the Cardiff heist. Nonetheless, being top of the pile was one of Eddie Jones’s stated targets and it would be some fillip as the squad reach the halfway point of their warm-up schedule with matches against Ireland (next week) at Twickenham and Italy (September 6) in Newcastle to play.
Even if they were to hit the high mark in Cardiff, they still believe that there is more to come, given that they have not revealed their whole repertoire.
* Anscombe’s season in doubt
* RWC match schedule and pools
* How to watch the Rugby World Cup
* First to sixth for All Blacks?
“It’s like a poker game at the moment,” Scott Wisemantel, England’s attack coach, said.
“It seems that teams are holding something back. Everyone’s sitting around, playing a few cards and some nice hands every now and then, but I don’t think everyone is showing their full hand. There is a strategy of how we put together our pieces of
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