Wales finally have strength in depth...so who actually starts at the RWC!?

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Wales finally have strength in depth...so who actually starts at the RWC!? - Page 5 Empty Wales finally have strength in depth...so who actually starts at the RWC!?

Post by miaow on Mon 26 Nov 2018, 1:41 am

First topic message reminder :

majesticimperialman wrote:Is the Welsh team that played against the Boks  the team for the coming 6ns/world cup?

Or is there more players to come back in to the team/squad?

A few people have answered this in another thread, but I thought I'd start a new thread, add my thoughts, and see what others think on this and a few other general points surrounding the Welsh team.

EDIT: I've also edited this to keep it a rolling thread about selection in the run up to the RWC.

The interesting, and perhaps 'good' thing, is that - for the first time in a long time - there is almost no 'first 'team'. There are no real stars in the team anymore - either the likes of Alfie, Ryan Jones, Henson etc., or later with the Galacticos, and even then the more recent 'Warburton' crop etc with Roberts, Lydiate, North, even Halfpenny being picked and still lauded by the casual Welsh rugby fan because of notoriety rather than form/ability.

There are still 'stars' in the team, of course, but for some reason it feels like they don't have that aura around them any more - perhaps because they haven't won anything with Wales for a while, even if they've performed for the Lions. In the best possible way, I think that's a good thing. What I'm trying to say, in a roundabout way, is that there appears to be more humility within the squad - ethics, values etc - as well as an acceptance that you actually are now only a bad game or two away from losing the shirt. A few things contribute to this, but the second and third choice players actually turning up for the first time in Gatland's reign (barring the RWC '11 when he opted for the youngsters like Warburton, Lydiate, Faletau, North etc. en masse) is the most important one; the fact they've produced both individually when called upon, and collectively in the last two summer tours, has meant he hasn't had to do an Aled Brew/Deiniol Jones/Dan Biggar (Samoa '09, seems so long ago...) and cut short the playing career of a reserve, giving the first choice player an almost iron-clad guarantee they'll be picked. Biggar, Jamie Roberts, Scott Williams, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Halfpenny, North and Liam Williams have all been pressurised into producing better and more consistent rugby, or dropped. Almost to a man, those who have been retained have responded.

This results in a team in transition, which is exactly where Gatland seemingly wants his teams before a RWC. 2010/11 was the worst season of Gatland's reign in many ways, and then like that he produces arguably the best team Wales have had in his tenure. 2015 6Ns they played very little football, only changing the way they attacked from rucks in the warm up games - but for some shocking mental strength and attacking nerve against Australia, they would have won their group later than year in the RWC. Despite the injuries suffered, who knows how they would have fared against Scotland and then Argentina. This time, in 2018, winning games has probably allowed Wales to do a bit more in terms of varying their attack early on this time, because they look fit/strong/driven enough this autumn, which is never normally the case - it always felt like lots of effort was going on building them up so as not to fail, rather than to win. Those foundations are more solid now and I wouldn't expect as dramatic a change in performance come Japan next year, but make no mistake, Gatland will have plenty up his sleeve come Japan. I wouldn't be surprised if Wales are somewhat disappointing this 6Ns because of this - maybe a 3rd or 4th place finish. That said, I also have a feeling Gatland may fancy his chances for one last title. Wales haven't won anything since 2013, which feels both fair and like a slight underachievement. It cannot be dismissed the importance of having him 'here', rather than off with the Lions - or nursing his heels in NZ - for a good, sustained period of time. With England and Ireland at home, Italy looking poor, France looking bulkier and poor, and Scotland looking dangerous but physically weak, a Grand Slam or 6Ns title isn't out of the equation. I think Wales can squeeze Ireland (some claim, but they did it in 2015 and 2017) - having not beaten England for a long time in the 6Ns (2013! Incredible - definitely something of a stumbling block) despite having dominated the 2017 fixture, Wales really need to put them away. Deal with their physical threat, play ruthlessly on the counter, and England will switch off/show their weaknesses. They're a hot and cold team; potentially devastating but, a bit like a (much better) Australia, they're clearly not a 'complete' team (unlike, say, Ireland).

Strangely, in terms of the dynamic of the team, I'd say Warburton retiring has probably left a gap in the team with regard to leadership (obviously) but also 'star' potential. He's Gatland's boy. He was the bedrock of the side - the captain, but more importantly the player and the man the team is built around. In many ways, this team seems to still very much have his imprint there - hard working, dedicated, a bit too puritanical at times, but with the added niggle of AWJ as captain it feels more 'natural'. With both of them thre, regardless of who was captain, it felt a bit...not like there was a power struggle, but that one would always be slightly frustrated at not leading the team. If you have, say, BoD and PoC - fine, different areas of the pitch, v different roles, it works. For a workhorse forward and a workhorse back rower - with a chippy number 10 in there who likes a moan as well - there were too many cooks. With AWJ as captain, he feels like the leader surrounded by lots of vice captains - Tipuric, Ellis Jenkins, Biggar, Jon Davies, Ken Owens. Warburton could never be that - he's too big, too important, too good a captain.

Come knockout time at the RWC, I don't think there's a better person to have on the field than Warburton - as a captain or player. But him not being there has allowed a sustained run of games for a few players to shine - namely Tipuric, Shingler, and Navidi. Ultimately, only Tipuric may start of those 3, but Warburton's absence has allowed/forced Gatland to nail down the 6 shirt. Tipuric and Warburton never really worked - for whatever reason, and there's loads that can be considered. The main ones are the coaches didn't like/trust it, but I also think it wasn't good enough, either. Warburton was incredible, and diversified his game as time went on, but he was still a fetcher. They were different players - Tipuric playing wide in the Ben Coles role in the loose, Warburton 'taking away' more opposition players at the breakdown - but not different enough. Certainly, against the likes of South Africa or England, without players like Jake Ball, North, or Ken Owens to do some hard grunt work, you never got to see each player shine with two opensides on the flanks. It wasn't dreadful, but I think the Welsh backrow is much more balanced now.

Which leads me on to the next point: the fact that Wales finally have an interchangeable side. As alluded to above, there are many 50:50 calls. Of the spine of the team Gatland could pick, I can think of only 3 players who he will pick irrespective of form. They are AWJ, Faletau, and Jonathan Davies; that's 5, 8, and 13. Massively important positions, but 2, 9, 10, and 15 aren't nailed on like they used to be. Hibbard, Phillips, Biggar, and Halfpenny have been his favourites, but that's no longer the case in these positions. I think Ken Owens isn't far off being integral at 2, and I'd say he should have been for a lot longer than he has been first choice for Wales, but for whatever reason Gatland has gone for Scott Baldwin and Jamie George ahead of him when, for me, he is a fair bit better than both, certainly the former.

At 9, I think this Autumn has really put the cat among the pigeons. Gareth Davies was always nipping at Webb's heels, and he undoubtedly has his strengths, but he also has poor game managemant relative to his other abilities. He's not at the Ben Youngs/Danny Care level of meltdown, but he can be frustrating - though he played well against South Africa, against Australia he was a liability in the second half. If Webb isn't 'loaned' to a Welsh region for the RWC next year, then I think Tomos Williams stands a very good chance of superceding him next summer and starting in Japan. I'll come on to that point at the end.

10 isn't too dissimilar. I think Gatland has actually opted for Anscombe now as his first choice 10, as was always his intention 3 years ago when he brought him over. However, if he has a shocker, or goes off form, or suffers a few niggles, he'll bring Biggar back, no problem. Or Patchell, depending on how he fares between now and next autumn. I think it will require one of Biggar or Anscombe suffering an injury, and Patchell making up for a shaky - although not dreadful - performance at Twickenham earlier this year, for Patchell to get the gametime to put him in the frame as #2, but if that does happen, it's money in the bank, and Patchell offers something the other two do not. Perhaps the best way to break down the 10 debate is to view it through the Pivac reign: Patchell will be Pivac's #10. There's almost no doubt about that. He might give one of the others a run in the shirt initially, particularly if they've had a great RWC beforehand, but eventually, if Stephen Jones does become attack coach, Wales will play with Patchell at 10. He's easily the most talented and complete player of the 3; however, that doesn't mean he's the best choice, and it certainly doesn't mean he's the best choice *right now*, 12 months away from a RWC, with Gatland as head coach. Anscombe is a nice compromise between the other 2; not as limited as Biggar, but not as flaky and inexperienced as Patchell is right now. He's not as talented at instinctively reading the play and executing the correct choice as Patchell (who is second only to Sexton in my opinion in the NH, better than Finn Russell or any 10 England will actually pick - haven't seen enough of Cipriani to compare the two), nor is he as tirelessly excellent at the dogged work Biggar gets through with the boot and in defence. But he's a happy medium - at least for Gatand. It's such a tentative hierachy, however, that it could easily change from the 6Ns to the summer to the RWC. Very much up in the air, but Anscombe is first choice; Gatland even telling the media to 'stop debating' this is a sign he doesn't want to be fielding questions or for the public to pick up on how tight this is, because pressurising any/all of the 3 will ultimately hurt the team. It's tight, but don't mention it - in fact, don't even look at it. Stop looking. It's Anscombe. Or Biggar. Maybe. Now go away...

15 is more simple I think - it's Leigh Halfpenny with Liam Williams on the wing. However, as he showed with the Lions, he'll happily drop an out of form 1/2P if required. Injuries are always Halfpenny's downfall - much like a few players who are there or thereabouts, but who may miss out from lack of playing time this season - and might be again, who knows, but in form, and playing with far more attacking confidence now he's been at the Scarlets, he's in the Ken Owens position of being almost-undroppable-but-not-quite.

Finally, I'll get round to the question that's been quoted. In short, I think the team for the 6Ns isn't necessarily the team that will be picked for the RWC - that'll be the apex, as it were, so I'll try to answer that with regards to who is in the first team.

1. Rob Evans is the best loosehead, but offers more from the bench than Nicky Smith. I honestly felt Wyn Jones was the second best #1 in Wales last season, pushing Rob Evans as a more 'old-school' (fatter, better scrummaging) prop than his clubmate. But Nicky Smith has stepped up at test level, and that's all that counts. 3 excellent options, if Gatland wants to maintain this second-wave from the bench - finishers, if you want - then Rob Evans maybe not start, despite being the 'best' loosehead prop. A few wobbles in the scrum, and Nicky Smith may get demoted to third-choice, though. I'd play Rob Evans, and think Gatland is simply giving Nicky Smith the starting minutes for experience rather than bedding him in as first choice, but it's very hard to tell. Precarious.

2. Ken Owens. Elliot Dee is having a stormer and really stepping up consistently considering he doesn't look test ready - still looks like a club player in terms of body shape and size (slim, rather than fat/out of shape). Fair play to him, he hasn't let Wales down at all. Really impressed by him. I dislike Kristian Dacey, something of the Cuthbert-looking-at-the-big-screen-while-grimacing-having-Frak-up about him. The hair makes him look like a poor man's Hibbard. Like he's trying a bit too hard to convince everyone he's...something I can't quite put my finger on. That he's tough? This isn't just a personal attack. What I'm trying to say is that he gives the impression of someone not really comfortable at test level. Like Cuthbert - someone so out of his depth, he was 'acting' half the time; he never got comfortable with himself, never felt at home with either his teammates nor himself on the field of play. This is absolutely a psychological thing, and in what is a practically impossible thing to prove, I get the same thing from Dacey. Partly, also, he's a very average rugby player, in the realm of Scott Baldwin. Scott Otten hasn't been given a shot, which is slightly surprising/disappointing - haven't watched him this season so unsure whether this is deserved or not. Ryan Elias is a phenomenal player. Like Wyn Jones, an excellent 3rd choice. Would be happy with him starting, but needs gametime - specifically Nicky Smith-esque gametime, i.e. as a starter. But Ken is still the man, no doubt.

3. 50:50 between Francis and Samson Lee. I would have had Francis out in front for the last two seasons as he had more to his game than Lee, but Samson's slimmed down and added a bit more skill to his game - tip on pass in the 6Ns? - and so it's Francis by a hair. It's practically indistinguishable, and I think Gatland may go for Lee starting and Francis coming on, which I think is the best way to use them. Big drop off to 3rd choice - Leon Brown hasn't really cut it for me, and Dillon Lewis (though excellent this when played) hasn't really been in a real test as such. Might be harsh on Lewis as I think he's 'got it', but just hasn't proven it in the heat of competition yet. Don't think he'd let Wales down when it comes; nor Brown would for that matter. Just wouldn't be sure of either at scrumtime, and for that reason, through no fault of their own, they're still liabilities.

4 & 5. AWJ. Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Cory Hill as his second choice. Seb Davies, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris offering either youthful versatility of grizzled experience when push comes to shove/Wales have a glut of injuries in the group stage. It's horses for course this. I really, really like Jake Ball. Cannot praise him enough. Loved his linebreak and bump off against Tonga. More importantly, thought he was excellent but also vital against England in 2017. He is a rock with the ball in hand. Wales don't have those players. They just don't. They never really have. England do. They have Vunipola. But they've always had them. Martin Johnson. Dallaglio. They've always had them - big, strong, uncomplicated players who will make the opposition tackle. Ball's not as 'hard' as Johnson, but he's also now a lot more mobile and skillful. A bit like with Halfpenny, being at the Scarlets has seen him flourish and improve the elements of his game that are less 'natural' to him. He's got decent hands. He's surprisingly agile. He's a bit injury prone, and this may be his downfall, because he doesn't seem to be able to take a beating and get straight back into it the next game, but he is so important to Wales because they don't have players like him - someone who is not going to get bullied. Like an Adam Jones at second row - worth his weight in gold. That said, if you want to new Charteris for the lineout, you go Adam Beard, who clearly has great handling skills and stood up to a brutal South Africa pack. Cory Hill is like Elliot Dee- continues to impress despite not looking like a test player. I think it's between Ball and Beard to start, as Hill is more of an allrounder and a workhouse and neither tall enough as a defensive jumper (Australia's 6 10 locks) nor big enough as a lock against the South African/English scrums. But a great bench option, and clearly flourishing in the setup. Between Ball and Beard, I think it depends on who plays 6 i.e. do they have Shingler in the lineout or not. If not, Beard might be Gatland's choice. I'd be happy with that, but against the bigger teams (barring France who are sloppy as Smeg) Ball is crucial.

8. Let's get this out of the way. Faletau. Wales's best player. Moriarty a distant, but determined and reliable, understudy. Moving on...

7. Unbelievably tricky. 7 is Justin Tipuric. But could easily be Ellis Jenkins. I felt Gatland might be lining Jenkins up for the starting shirt before this autumn, but I think Tipuric has done enough - add in Jenkins' injury, and that should be decisive in who starts at openside. Sadly, I think that is how many positions will be decided for Japan, either in the lead up or during the tournament itself. Always horrible, but part of the game. Navidi a strong third choice who can cover all 3. For me, he's the only truly versatile back row player in that he could do a Pocock and pack down at 8 from now on an be excellent. Ellis Jenkins did amazingly from the base of the scrum against South Africa, but he's still more of an openside for me. Honestly though, with the way Wales play, the numbers on the back don't matter a huge deal when it comes to defence - it's more the personnel and how they line-up i.e. Tipuric will look to play wide in the phase play, or they look to get the ball to him when there's quick turnover ball. James Davies way off the equation, and not veratile enough to make the squad unfortunately. A few injuries and he may be in - he's ahead of Thomas Young, Ollie Griffiths, and Sam Cross, Macleod, Boyde, all of whom could do a job there too. I feel like there are more I'm forgetting because Wales are absolutely blessed at 7, but the key here is points of difference. If you're not Tipuric, you need to be able to slot in at #20, or even #6, and Jenkins and Navidi do that far better than James Davies.

6. For me, it's still Aaron Shingler, but this position gets dictated somewhat by who plays 7. Last time I posted on these boards was ahead of the Scotland game in the 6Ns to say he was the key player to how Wales were going to play, and he had a stormer (official man of the match). Suffering from injuries, as he has done throughout his career, and he may not make it back to this level - only time will tell. But he has something no other Welsh blindside can offer. Pacey, rangey, skillfull, athletic, tough as nails, can pinch a ball at the breakdown, and tactically astute. As a spot-blitz defender, he stood out (literally...) against England and Scotland. Criminally underused by Gatland in my opinion, particularly around 2013. Had something of an indian summer over the last 12-18 months in that it seemed his career was all but over, but thankfully he finally got the opportunity last season and grabbed it before this injury. If he can make it back - and in all likelihood that means not getting injured again before the RWC to develop match fitness - he could be one of the most important cogs in a post-Warburton Wales team. If he's injured, the whole back 5 has a competely different look. Next in line is, arguably, not a blindside flanker - someone like Jenkins, Navidi, or even Moriarty who can play that role decently enough. But it feels like a compromise on Shingler, in my opinion. In an era when the likes of Scott Barrett, Itoje, Lawes, and Sam Skinner are being picked at 6 as these 'third locks' to link the second and back rows more seamlessly, Shingler is Wales's best option here. Howeve, they've looked at Seb Davies this autumn in that role, and he did pretty well, but I don't think he's in serious contention of starting - more a good-to-know-we-can-if-desperate option. Aaron Wainwright did ok this autumn, was targeted by South Africa physically and didn't buckle, but I haven't seen the requisite point of difference to his game to really put him into a starting shirt - nice hands for Biggar's try against Tonga though. Like Cory Hill, workmanlike might translate into a squad place, and with an injury or two, a bench or even starting spot? Dan Lydiate has, unbelievably, given himself a chance with his performance against Australia. Gatland absolutely threw him a lifeline by picking him this autumn, and in fairness he did far better than expected against Australia; a player who steps up at test level, but for me is still too limited and one dimensional. Looked a lot sharper and fitter than he has done for a while though. Pedigree and experience, particularly without Warburton, work in his favour. Lydiate, Faletau, Tipuric isn't out of the question. I'd make Shingler nailed on if fit, but Gatland really did love Lydiate, and he didn't run away like Cuthbert. It's not out of the question that he takes the shirt next year.

9. Gareth Davies. Tomos Williams, with Aled Davies some way back. Can't see a way back for Webb unless an injury occurs in the RWC and Gatland says 'f the rules, I'm leaving in a fortnight...give me Webb!'. Plenty of adequate club players but no one comes close to the first two (3) choices Wales could pick - Lloyd Williams, Rhodri Williams etc.

10. Feel it's covered above. Anscombe. If Wales are really hit hard, there's a big gulf, but there are a few options. Interesting to see Dan Jones was ignored for Jarrod Evans this autumn - feel there is very little in that. Sam Davies could play his way back in if the Ospreys continue improving as the season goes on, but has suffered as that region has regressed/imploded.

12. Hadleigh Parkes. Not pulling up trees, nor a particularly standout player, but brings solidity. Scott Williams and, more likely, Owen Watkin cannot be too far away. Watkin in particular looks like Parkes' natural successor, the most well rounded #12 Wales have had since Henson. Which might not be saying much, but with 2-3 games in the 6Ns, I wouldn't rule him out from starting.

13. JD2. Scott Williams? Watkin? Of the dedicated outside-centres, is Tyler Morgan next in line? Cory Allen? That's some drop off, with no disrespect to Tyler Morgan, who hasn't really had the time to show what he's about (South Africa in the RWC as a literal boy, and then Tonga this year - v physical, and not where he will shine). Bit of a weakness here should Jon Davies get injured, as it'll likely involve playing a 12 at 13.

11 & 14.
Liam Williams and George North. Excellent, solid, well balanced wingers. Having them hitting form and combining...it's a really exciting prospect. It feels a long time - really since the days of Shane - since I can say I've been excited about the team getting the ball into the 3/4s, because it never really happened successfully with Roberts at 12, and a combination of personnel and lack of form meant Wales never executed or lived up to the threat they, on paper, possessed. North is guilty of that as much as anyone, but not playing for Northampton seems to have done him wonders. Didn't have an incredible, flashy autumn, but everything he did was good - much, much more reliable and threatening under the high ball, carried and stepped in the channels with aggression and intelligence. Finally the player he has threatened to be - even when not scoring wonder tries, he's consistently awkward and dangerous. Liam Williams is up there with Tipuric and Faletau as Wales's most naturally gifted players. If you're going to play for an English club, make sure it's the one that dominates almost every other team! It basically leaves Exeter and Saracens, so hopefully he doesn't suffer as North did when playing in the Premiership. After those two, there's a gap. Gatland doesn't like Steff Evans and I do understand it. He's arguably the most intelligent (rugby wise) winger Wales have, and maybe the most gifted with ball in hand, but he lacks that top, top speed which is so vital at this level. It's a real shame but I don't see a place for him in the #23. Josh Adams probably takes that shirt. Looks like he can fill in at full back, has more pace and power than Steff, and looks more solid defensively. Jonah Holmes has stood up and shown himself adequate if Liam Williams and/or Josh Adams gets injured - he can take that 14&15 place in the group if necessary, otherwise he doesn't make the RWC squad. Cuthbert seems finished, Hallam Amos is versatile but still lacks those physical attributes it seems. Luke Morgan has that pace, but didn't get the opportunity. Still v fresh to the 15 man game. Will be interesting to see what he can do for the rest of the season - a genuine bolter? Other than that, I can see a place in the 6Ns for a Cuthbert replacement as I feel like they've covered Liam Williams with Holmes, and Steff Evans with Morgan. Jarred Rosser? Owen Lane? Not out of the question. Feel like Ashton Hewitt and Keelan Giles are out of the equation until Pivac comes in.

15. Halfpenny. Depending on the game - Liam Williams. After that, I feel like it's squad filler: Anscombe, Patchell, Amos, Adams could all fill in there.

So that's my team. The final point I want to link back to is the fact that Gatland is sneaky. He's a sneaky man. For all his dedication to picking out of form players, and flogging-a-dead-Cuthbert, he's also prone to throwing a curveball in there on the biggest stage on a fairly regular occurrence. Liam Williams against NZ. Priestland in 2011 - although you could pick a few players from that era, Priestland stands out. These aren't just incidental players - they're not your openside winger, brought in because he's been tearing it up and you get the feeling he'll produce a try from nothing. This is the spine of the team in many cases with Gatland.

That's why I don't think it's unreasonable to think Patchell could end up as 10 for the WC. Or Tomos Williams. I think it's less likely this time, but it's not out of the question. Every position is under threat bar the 3 I think are certain. Any injury from now until the RWC opens the door for another player - it already has in the positions where players have been injured.

I'm really looking forward to Gatland's swansong. I'm glad it's ending on a relative high - even if he doesn't win either the 6Ns or the RWC. He seems much more mellow, much more circumspect and philosophical this autumn - I suppose personal circumstances will have played a large part there. But you also know he'll give everything in the RWC. The whole staff will be building for it, holding back plays etc. that will be unleashed at the right time. It makes, in many ways, a nice way to round off his tenure; it only feels like yesterday, in the autumn of '08, when he was berating his Grand Slam team for not matching the likes of South Africa and New Zealand, throwing the game away. They never really kicked on into what he wanted from Wales - he got that level from the Lions, you feel - but he finally got those to SH scalps this autumn, and I think he'd love a crack at the All Blacks, particularly if Wales are in form, in the RWC knockout stages.

I'm very much looking forward to the next 12 months and Warren Gatland's goodbye. I hope it lives up to the promise, and I hope it isn't devastated by injuries!


Last edited by miaow on Mon 25 Feb 2019, 7:23 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by LordDowlais on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 12:18 pm

I think Owen Lane might be picked for cover on one of the wings or center for this world cup.

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Post by miaow on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 12:25 pm

I'd be slightly surprised but thought he might have had a shot in the autumn or Italy game. Gatland went for Luke Morgan instead as he has real pace. Think Lane will be capped by Pivac, might sneak in to the wider training squad though, for me he's ahead of Luke Morgan and maybe even Steff Evans in terms of what he can bring on the wing (not centre, no way), he's just lacking game time.

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Post by RiscaGame on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 1:46 pm

Owen Lane is highly likely to see action in the summer, for me. I suspect Amos might be played as a 15 from here on in, as once he has left RP, I don’t see Cardiff playing him wing. Gatland clearly rates him highly though (even if he doesn’t have the top end pace) and I don’t expect to see Steff Evans near a Welsh squad for a while.

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Post by miaow on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 1:57 pm

Forgot about Amos, he's ahead of Jonah Holmes in the pecking order, and he stands a really good chance of making the squad.

It would be a Gatland thing to do to put somene like Lane in at the last moment, almost to catch other teams out: there's very little prep done on him, presumably, and he's got the pace that Cuthbert had them can make him a useful finisher. It's quite likely Halfpenny or Liam Williams breaks down at some point in the tournament, and maybe North as well, which really opens the possibility for a place in the back 3 for someone like Lane in the latter stages, if Wales make it. Just think he should have been capped by now - not ideal prep.

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Post by LordDowlais on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 3:18 pm

miaow wrote:I'd be slightly surprised but thought he might have had a shot in the autumn or Italy game. Gatland went for Luke Morgan instead as he has real pace. Think Lane will be capped by Pivac, might sneak in to the wider training squad though, for me he's ahead of Luke Morgan and maybe even Steff Evans in terms of what he can bring on the wing (not centre, no way), he's just lacking game time.

Perhaps Gatland might carry on his experiment with North as cover for the centers ?

By doing that, he can use the space in the squad for other positions. If Amos, Halfpenny and Liam Williams are in the squad, then that's the full backs and wings covered for injuries.

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Post by Pie on Thu 18 Apr 2019, 10:37 pm

Can anyone see Doc getting called up? I just feel he has something left to give

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Post by miaow on Fri 19 Apr 2019, 1:14 am

Yes, but only if there's a genuine centre crisis in the knockout stages, maybe just before the last group game. As in, they've lost Parkes and maybe Scott Williams as well. Any earlier than that/if the injuries happen pre-tournament then I think they're more likely to go down a different route, like bringing in a utility back if it's just one injury. But as it stands he's definitely 5th choice centre, at best. I'd make him 4th choice for the 12 shirt as well, so he's struggling.

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Post by Pie on Fri 19 Apr 2019, 1:16 am

He's above Williams right now surely. I'd say its JD2,Parkes,Watkin, Doc, SW....lose Parkes and he is surely a better option than Watkin and Scott with no rugby?

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Post by LordDowlais on Fri 19 Apr 2019, 7:45 am

Pie wrote:He's above Williams right now surely. I'd say its JD2,Parkes,Watkin, Doc, SW....lose Parkes and he is surely a better option than Watkin and Scott with no rugby?

What about Cory Allen ? Have we all forgotten about him ?

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Post by mikey_dragon on Fri 19 Apr 2019, 6:19 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
Pie wrote:He's above Williams right now surely. I'd say its JD2,Parkes,Watkin, Doc, SW....lose Parkes and he is surely a better option than Watkin and Scott with no rugby?

What about Cory Allen ? Have we all forgotten about him ?

Not good enough.

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Post by miaow on Fri 19 Apr 2019, 6:56 pm

No way is Roberts ahead of Scott Williams. Think people forget how good he actually is as a rugby player - just don't think Gatland trusts him. Not only is he not a good crashball player, but he's had too many 'brain fade' moments. For some reason he never got comfortable at test level, looked like he was forcing things and made errors as a result. Like the opposite of Tipuric - not the right mindset to sit on the bench for 5-6 years and then slot seamlessly in to the starting shirt. Instead, he panicked, left the Scarlets, and it's all gone downhill in the last 18 months to 2 years really. That said, still Wales' 3rd best centre at the moment, and at his best he's a fair bit better than Parkes. Just not as consistent.

Cory Allen's not a bad shout. He's not a great player but he did tour in 2017 so can't be out of the reckoning. I'm sure AWJ would have him in there, if only so he's joined by someone with an even worse case of premature balding that him...

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Post by Pie on Fri 19 Apr 2019, 8:46 pm

Yeah but when did Scott last play?

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Post by miaow on Tue 23 Apr 2019, 6:33 pm

Minor worry for Wales: assume he'll be fine in time for the autumn but hamstrings can be horrible things to injure, particularly for some in such a sprint-heavy position.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/48025899

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Post by Pie on Wed 24 Apr 2019, 5:57 am

Holmes would only ever be 3/4th ranked replacement - back 3 options North, Liam, Half, Adams, Amos, Evans etc. Pity as at 26 he may have missed his RWC chance

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Post by miaow on Wed 24 Apr 2019, 10:58 am

He's ahead of Steff purely on the basis that he's versatile. If Amos or LW/LH get injured, Holmes gets a place in the squad.

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Post by maestegmafia on Thu 25 Apr 2019, 8:59 am

The squad is announced next week I hear?

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Post by miaow on Thu 25 Apr 2019, 11:51 am

Which squad's that, the summer camp?

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Post by RiscaGame on Thu 25 Apr 2019, 4:52 pm

Yeah the 45 man training squad.

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Post by miaow on Thu 25 Apr 2019, 5:25 pm

Bets on the 14 players who make it on top of the 31 man squad from the 6Ns?

Forwards: Rhodri Jones, A. HOOKER (no idea between Dacy, Baldwin, Otten etc.), Leon Brown, Bradley Davies, Ellis Jenkins, Aaron Shingler, Faletau.

Backs: Lloyd Williams OR Kieran Hardy, Jarrod Evans OR Rhys Priestland, Owen Williams, Scott Williams, Tyler Morgan, Steff Evans, Luke Morgan OR Owen Lane.

Big Gav as the wildcard...

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 26 Apr 2019, 10:05 am

I can’t see many surprises coming. Owen Lane a possible addition in the wing birth behind Adams, North and current Squad. Fourth scrum half either Keiron Hardy or Rhodri Williams

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Post by Pie on Fri 26 Apr 2019, 7:23 pm

Webb please

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 27 Apr 2019, 1:04 am

Pie wrote:Webb please

Unfortunately it’ll take more than saying please mate

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Post by miaow on Sat 27 Apr 2019, 8:40 pm

Pretty please with £400k on top?

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Post by Pie on Sun 28 Apr 2019, 12:41 am

Hell awaits those that dont get Rhys Webb back to Wales

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Post by mikey_dragon on Sun 28 Apr 2019, 8:31 pm

He's welcome at the Dragons.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 28 Apr 2019, 10:23 pm

Thoughts on Tuesdays squad after this weekend?


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Post by LordDowlais on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 11:28 am

Robyn McBryde is going to be Leinsters new forwards coach.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 12:06 pm

LordDowlais wrote:Robyn McBryde is going to be Leinsters new forwards coach.

That was touted in the press last week. Be interesting to see how he gets on, plenty of talented players there

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Post by miaow on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 1:02 pm

maestegmafia wrote:Thoughts on Tuesdays squad after this weekend?


Apparently someone's bitter enough to downvote my suggestions so best not repeat them...

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 1:41 pm

I thought all in all a number of players showed up very well. In Particular the Dragons Halfbacks and backrow. Also thought Matthew Screech played well. Could he be the next Coombes/Hill surprise selection? There is a lot of depth at lock at the moment but he stood out well and has had solid form this season despite the Dragons position in the Table.

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 2:19 pm

miaow wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:Thoughts on Tuesdays squad after this weekend?


Apparently someone's bitter enough to downvote my suggestions so best not repeat them...


That might have been me. I have managed to both upvote and downvote posts by accident recently due to slow page loading.

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Post by miaow on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 6:28 pm

Alright, no worries.

Dragons have some good individual players. Rhodri Williams, for instance, is definitely capable of getting back to Welsh squad ability/form when you consider the competition. He's a more talented 9 than Aled Davies, for sure, but obviously took the wrong career path.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 7:23 pm

miaow wrote:Alright, no worries.

Dragons have some good individual players. Rhodri Williams, for instance, is definitely capable of getting back to Welsh squad ability/form when you consider the competition. He's a more talented 9 than Aled Davies, for sure, but obviously took the wrong career path.

We agree he looks better and still a young guy too

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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 8:32 pm

Like Johnny Evans he shouldn't have gone to England. Welsh teams were stupid by not offloading Knoyle and Aled Davies. No.9 is never a position where we need to recruit from overseas. At this stage I think one of Johnny Evans or Kieran Hardy should go to Ospreys and be first choice, that's assuming they aren't promoting the very promising 9 in their academy.

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Post by miaow on Mon 29 Apr 2019, 9:55 pm

maestegmafia wrote:
miaow wrote:Alright, no worries.

Dragons have some good individual players. Rhodri Williams, for instance, is definitely capable of getting back to Welsh squad ability/form when you consider the competition. He's a more talented 9 than Aled Davies, for sure, but obviously took the wrong career path.

We agree he looks better and still a young guy too

Yeah, and seeing Martin Roberts playing for Cardiff RFC is a sign of both the depth we've had a 9 in the last decade, but also the way the changes in the game have totally changed the course of certain players' careers. Roberts had the best pass I think I've seen in Wales, at least since Peel, maybe better. But he's not the kind of player to boss the game at the top level. Tavis very different but struggled with the same role but he's definitely capable enough to be a key player at regional level. Got all the raw abilities - and that's something Rhodri had/has in spades. There was so little weakness to his game when he first broke through, still time to turn it around, but it's a sign there's a lack of good coaching in Wales that so much talent has just come and gone. Mikey's right, going to the Premiership is just entering the meat grinder, it's obviously good experience (unless you fail to get promoted/get relegated) but it doesn't really develop players with any sort of consistency. It's all about the week to week result.

I think a few Dragons players have probably put their hands up for Wales selection after that game - probably not for Gatland, but for Pivac. Rhodri, Screech, maybe even Jordan Williams... Run

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Post by Pie on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 3:18 am

Dan Evans....and if not why not? Howley's fragile little ego cant handle arguably the best FB in Wales?

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Post by LordDowlais on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 12:11 pm

Deleted.


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Post by LordDowlais on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 12:12 pm

Forwards

Leon Brown, Rhys Carre*, Rob Evans, Tomas Francis, Wyn Jones, Samson Lee, Dillon Lewis, Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones, James Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs

Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans, Rhys Patchell, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Owen Watkin, Scott Williams, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Steff Evans, Leigh Halfpenny, Owen Lane, George North, Jonah Holmes, Liam WIlliams.

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Post by LordDowlais on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 12:12 pm

No Rhys Webb !!!!

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Post by miaow on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 12:21 pm

LordDowlais wrote:Forwards

Leon Brown, Rhys Carre*, Rob Evans, Tomas Francis, Wyn Jones, Samson Lee, Dillon Lewis, Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Bradley Davies, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones, James Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs

Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans, Rhys Patchell, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Owen Watkin, Scott Williams, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Steff Evans, Leigh Halfpenny, Owen Lane, George North, Jonah Holmes, Liam WIlliams.

Not a million miles away in end but a few surprises, but I suppose it makes sense that certain positions (9, 2) don't have an extra call up when they may take only 2 hookers etc. - surprising to see Rhys Carre in there but is that asterix a 'training with the squad' symbol or does it just mean uncapped? But surprised by the split of players. James Davies has done well to sneak in there considering he's still injured. Rated above Thomas Young?

miaow wrote:Forwards: Rhodri Jones, A. HOOKER (no idea between Dacy, Baldwin, Otten etc.), ]Leon Brown, Bradley Davies, Ellis Jenkins, Aaron Shingler, Faletau.

Backs: Lloyd Williams OR Kieran Hardy, Jarrod Evans OR Rhys Priestland, Owen Williams, Scott Williams, Tyler Morgan, Steff Evans, Luke Morgan OR Owen Lane.

As many were expeting, Owen Lane gets his opportunity.


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Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 12:24 pm

Leon Brown's in the squad, Miaow.

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Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 12:56 pm

I assume they're just planning on capping Carre in a warm-up game to tie him to Wales (I'm sure I read he's eligible for England*), and they don't see him as an actual contender for the World Cup?



* - I know he's played for Wales under-20s, but that doesn't matter.

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Post by LondonTiger on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 1:34 pm

Luckless Pedestrian wrote:I assume they're just planning on capping Carre in a warm-up game to tie him to Wales (I'm sure I read he's eligible for England*), and they don't see him as an actual contender for the World Cup?



* - I know he's played for Wales under-20s, but that doesn't matter.
By the time he is capped he would officially be a Saracens player. Seems silly they can name a guy who is currently in Wales but leaving, yet are unable to name Webb who signed his contract before the rule cam in.

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Post by miaow on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 4:09 pm

Luckless Pedestrian wrote:Leon Brown's in the squad, Miaow.

Yep, first one, skimmed over it. Thought it was odd if he'd been dropped out.

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Post by miaow on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 4:12 pm

Definitely a case of tying him to Wales by the looks of it. As well as a case of 'don't you dare sign another contract in England'.

Disappointing for Ellis Jenkins. Have to assume his lack of involvement means he's not going to make it - bad, bad injury so not surpring really. Best to focus on fitness and recovery and IF someone goes down in September/October, the door's still open for him. That said, he'd walk in to every other 6Ns squad, probably their 23s as well, so a big loss of talent.

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Post by Pie on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 6:36 pm

I disagree on Carre. Yes he is Eng eligible but unlike Eng we dont have two superb ball playing props...closest we have is Evans to a Sinckler for example. Carre is 6.3 and 21st and can carry all day. Exactly what we need. I expect he will be given a chance to start one of the warm ups and if he does well no reason to think he couldn't oust Wyn and go to RWC

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 6:41 pm

It does seem a bit soon for Carre, he's just someone with great potential right now, he actually hasn't been able to nail down a permanent spot in the team. His move to Saracens seems a bit premature as it's not often young, unestablished welsh guys are given a chance there.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 6:42 pm

I'm not sorry but if Aled Davies gets onto the pitch then that's a huge risk.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 6:43 pm

Pie wrote:Dan Evans....and if not why not? Howley's fragile little ego cant handle arguably the best FB in Wales?

Probably because he only looks good against the bottom teams in the league. The guy blows too hot and cold each game for me.

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Post by Pie on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 6:57 pm

Its interesting about Doc and Lydiate. If I know Gats train of thought these guys are still in the mix but are known quantities; he knows he can parachute either in - Charteris as well - to do job if required. Its tough on Doc because Scott has had no rugby and Parkes - though vey good v Ireland - is mercurial. I think Doc's biggest problem is nothing is created off him usually. When he gets the ball he goes into contact which doesn't fit with the get it wide game Wales want to play now.

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