Nigel Davies insists he has no split loyalties ahead of England’s Six Nations showdown with Wales on Sunday.
The Gloucester director of rugby is desperate to see his Cherry and White contingent perform against his homeland but is backing the reigning champions with both heart and head.
And the ideal scenario would be to see his trio of Ben Morgan, Billy Twelvetrees and Jonny May the stand-out England performers in a hard-fought Welsh victory.
He said: “That would be perfect. Obviously my heart is with Wales but there are strong Gloucester connections to the England team and I hope the boys do well.
“I have a lot of regard for them but I’m a passionate Welshman and want Wales to win. When you work with people you develop an empathy with them and want them to do well but I will obviously be supporting Wales.”
Warren Gatland’s side stormed to a record 30-3 victory to defend their Championship crown and prevent a first England Grand Slam in a decade the last time the old enemies met.
Davies reckons England are vastly improved side since the Millennium Stadium massacre and envisages a tightly contested Twickenham encounter but he remains optimistic that Wales will have the firepower to blow England away once more.
He said: “It’s a very tight one to call, England have built a lot of belief in what they are doing and are playing some good stuff but if Wales hit their straps like they did against France, my head says they will come out on top.
“I’m sure the recent history will have an impact. England will still be smarting from last year and will have a big point to prove.
“It’s undeniably a very good England team that’s playing with belief and confidence but you have individuals in the Wales squad who have proven themselves in the last few years in the Six Nations and during the Lions tour.”
Ireland provided a blueprint in how to stop Wales as they claimed a 26-3 victory in round two. Joe Schmidt’s side stopped Wales’ ball-carriers at the gain-line and strangled the life from them at the set-piece.
Davies believes England can enjoy success in the same areas but, given his experiences with Gloucester this season, he’s well aware that it begins up front and believes the absence of scrum rock Dan Cole could be critical.
He said: “Ireland showed that if you can stop Wales on the gain-line you can make them look an ordinary side and if England have good line speed and ensure the collisions are on the Welsh side of that line they will have a chance.
“ It will be a brutal encounter. The midfield area alone will be full of huge collisions. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the biggest Welsh team in history and they are very physical and very effective when they get it right.
“Billy (Twelvetrees) versus Jamie Roberts could be one heck of a match-up.
“He will not take a backwards step and if any player can nullify the Welsh midfield it is Billy. His work-rate and physicality is simply huge.
“There’s two excellent goal-kickers who will cancel each other out if they have similar opportunities.
“But it will be interesting to see how the scrum goes, as ever it will be a huge factor in the game.
“Wales have probably taken a step back in that area. A lot of that’s probably down to the way the Ospreys have been performing and the style of the props they have and England might look to exploit that.
“But the loss of Dan Cole is pretty significant. England are missing a few more players than Wales. ”