Warren Gatland delays naming Wales team for under-threat England showdown

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has delayed naming his team for Saturday’s under-threat Guinness Six Nations clash against England in Cardiff.

Gatland had been due to announce the starting line-up at midday on Tuesday, although the New Zealander will still front a scheduled press conference at Wales’ training base.

Whether the game goes ahead remains in doubt amid Welsh rugby’s contractual chaos and possibility of a players’ strike.

Talks between negotiators of a new six-year financial agreement – the Professional Rugby Board – and Welsh professional players are due to take place on Wednesday.

The players want Wales’ minimum 60-cap selection rule for players plying their trade outside the country to be scrapped, a voice at PRB meetings and a review of proposed fixed-variable contracts.

Those contracts would guarantee a player only 80 per cent of their salary, with the remaining 20 per cent comprising bonuses, and is the players’ major grievance.

No long-form agreement between the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales’ four professional regions – Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – has yet been agreed in writing, mean players whose contracts expire at the end of this season currently cannot be offered new deals.

Scotland v Wales – Guinness Six Nations – BT Murrayfield
Wales have lost their opening two Six Nations games (Andrew Milligan/PA)

With the clock ticking and player unrest having escalated, Gatland must somehow prepare for a game that comes on the back of Wales suffering comprehensive defeats in their opening Six Nations fixtures against Ireland and Scotland.

It is the first time for 16 years that Wales have lost their first two championship games, while three defeats from the start last happened during their 2003 Six Nations campaign under head coach Steve Hansen.