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 6 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 Pie on Tue 30 Apr 2019, 6:58 pm

Be interesting to see if he only picks two SH. That way one will break almost inevitably and he can call Webby.

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Post by Taylorman on Wed 01 May 2019, 8:09 am

Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

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Post by maestegmafia on Wed 01 May 2019, 8:39 am

Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Sounds like a nasty injury hope he does get the best treatment and carry on what looked like a promising start to the season for Highlanders.

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Post by miaow on Wed 01 May 2019, 5:51 pm

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/48121687

Both encouraging and depressing when you think about this in relation to Rhys Webb.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Wed 01 May 2019, 6:55 pm

Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

He went back for his fathers funeral right before the Autumn series and we did okay there... Gatland is good at prepping.

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Post by Pie on Thu 02 May 2019, 5:45 am

Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone

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Post by maestegmafia on Thu 02 May 2019, 9:11 am

Pie wrote:
Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone

There is an element of that in the Kiwi press with regards to Wales prospects at the RWC. I take this as a compliment.

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Post by BamBam on Thu 02 May 2019, 10:53 am

Shaun Edwards confirmed to be leaving after the RWC

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/sport/amp/rugby-union/48133171

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Post by Pie on Fri 03 May 2019, 12:56 am

maestegmafia wrote:
Pie wrote:
Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone

There is an element of that in the Kiwi press with regards to Wales prospects at the RWC. I take this as a compliment.

If arrogant snide lack of sportsmanship is a compliment consider me overwhelmed

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Post by Pie on Fri 03 May 2019, 1:00 am

No wonder Gats didn't take Edwards on a Lions tour

So when Argentina beat France into 2nd place and we face France in 1/4 what then??? How has this potential conflict of interest been allowed to happen? The contract these guys should sign should stipulate no discussion allowed to take place until after a team is knocked out of RWC

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Post by Taylorman on Fri 03 May 2019, 3:02 am

Pie wrote:
Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone

No Pie, I meant it, particularly with the type of injury. He's on the other side of the world when his son gets a horrific looking injury and now has the World cup to contend with as well as the injury. Its a real test of loyalties he'll have to balance.

Pity you opt for being a cynic first.

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Post by Pie on Fri 03 May 2019, 4:09 am

Taylorman wrote:
Pie wrote:
Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone

No Pie, I meant it, particularly with the type of injury. He's on the other side of the world when his son gets a horrific looking injury and now has the World cup to contend with as well as the injury. Its a real test of loyalties he'll have to balance.

Pity you opt for being a cynic first.

Not really a bad option when dealing with you. And it won't affect Gatland's RWC prep one iota, so tough tittle and nice try thumbsup

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Post by Taylorman on Fri 03 May 2019, 6:34 am

Pie wrote:
Taylorman wrote:
Pie wrote:
Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone

No Pie, I meant it, particularly with the type of injury. He's on the other side of the world when his son gets a horrific looking injury and now has the World cup to contend with as well as the injury. Its a real test of loyalties he'll have to balance.

Pity you opt for being a cynic first.

Not really a bad option when dealing with you. And it won't affect Gatland's RWC prep one iota, so tough tittle and nice try thumbsup

It may not, but you don’t need that at this time. Bryn would have had the faintest of hopes of getting a bit of luck and a possible World Cup trip. That’s now a zero chance now, even if it wasn’t much more than that anyway. He’s young so who knows.

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Post by Pie on Fri 03 May 2019, 6:43 am

Just do one Taylorman...BG was never anywhere near a prospect for RWC, until he's injured and all of. a sudden now he's going to miss out cos he's injured??? And Gats RWC prep is under threat too.

What a load of old shoite

Sometimes the mentality of Kiwis trying to find any way to have a pop makes me want to puke.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 03 May 2019, 7:03 am

Pie wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:
Pie wrote:
Taylorman wrote:Big shame about Bryns injury, what a horrible way to end the season. That’s not helped Gats need to prep in such a big year.

Crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone

There is an element of that in the Kiwi press with regards to Wales prospects at the RWC. I take this as a compliment.

If arrogant snide lack of sportsmanship is a compliment consider me overwhelmed

It’s no different in any country, read the press on your team from other nations perspectives is quite interesting. I often read the rugby in the NZ Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, as well as the French and English broadsheets.


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Post by Cyril on Fri 03 May 2019, 7:14 am

Walesonline, on the other hand, is brilliant, neutral journalism.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 03 May 2019, 8:30 am

Pie wrote:Just do one Taylorman...BG was never anywhere near a prospect for RWC, until he's injured and all of. a sudden now he's going to miss out cos he's injured??? And Gats RWC prep is under threat too.

What a load of old shoite

Sometimes the mentality of Kiwis trying to find any way to have a pop makes me want to puke.

Interesting Article from the kiwi perspective post Grandslam

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=12214768

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Post by miaow on Fri 03 May 2019, 11:51 am

English journalism on any of the other Home Nations is based on Lions Tours, then 6Ns/RWCs, then MAYBE if your team does really well in the Heineken Cup. Otherwise they don't have a clue. It's why the Irish are better known/more praised in England, particularly TV media. With Wales, reading the journalists' opinions is clear they just go on the basis of whichever Welsh players do well for the Lions or at a RWC. Or flashy players, Hibbard etc., get focused on. Basically, no-one outside the country knows very much about Wales because it's small and they don't actually every watch them. I'd say the same is true for the majority of posters on this site tbh and explains the confusion regarding certain players' abilities relative to others.

For instance, I think Wales have the best 8 and 7 in the world in Faletau and Tipuric. But almost no-one outside Wales will understand why.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 03 May 2019, 12:16 pm

miaow wrote:.

For instance, I think Wales have the best 8 and 7 in the world in Faletau and Tipuric. But almost no-one outside Wales will understand why.

Maybe add AWJ to that list too and Webb though he is now ineligible for international rugby.

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Post by miaow on Fri 03 May 2019, 1:15 pm

Na, I do think AWJ has his flaws. As a leader/influence he's top drawer, but he's not as spectactularly brilliant as LW and or Faletau. No doubt an immense player but he's had a few too many 'off' days at the top level where other players don't. Still one of the best, no doubt, but maybe not necessarily in his specific position? The abilities he has aren't position specific, maybe?

Webb has the potential for sure, but who knows how his career would have gone had he not spent so much of it injured, and when he'd finally established himself as a test player/Lion, shot himself in the foot.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 03 May 2019, 1:20 pm

miaow wrote:Na, I do think AWJ has his flaws. As a leader/influence he's top drawer, but he's not as spectactularly brilliant as LW and or Faletau. No doubt an immense player but he's had a few too many 'off' days at the top level where other players don't. Still one of the best, no doubt, but maybe not necessarily in his specific position? The abilities he has aren't position specific, maybe?

Webb has the potential for sure, but who knows how his career would have gone had he not spent so much of it injured, and when he'd finally established himself as a test player/Lion, shot himself in the foot.

I think much of the foot shooting is unfortunately agent lead

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Post by miaow on Fri 03 May 2019, 1:39 pm

Perhaps, but the Ospreys were in a dreadful state when he decided to go. Can hardly blame him. The issue is the timing and whether the WRU misled him. Still, you have to admire the man for sticking to his club when it would've been easier to pack it in considering what's happened to Toulon this year. Sadly, he won't receive even a shred of loyalty from them in return if injuries crop up agan. I do think it's a failure on the part of the WRU/clubs not to get him a loan during the RWC but there we go. Think it was pretty clear with the way Gatland selected Aled Davies that he was planning without him.

Anyway, will be interesting to see how Owen Lane goes. Will he be the Cuthbert-esque strike runner Gatland's waiting the unleash. I think he will. I think he'll go ahead of Steff Evans, for sure, and if Pathchell goes he'll get the final back 3 spot with Jonah Holmes missing out.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 03 May 2019, 6:54 pm

miaow wrote:Perhaps, but the Ospreys were in a dreadful state when he decided to go. Can hardly blame him. The issue is the timing and whether the WRU misled him. Still, you have to admire the man for sticking to his club when it would've been easier to pack it in considering what's happened to Toulon this year. Sadly, he won't receive even a shred of loyalty from them in return if injuries crop up agan. I do think it's a failure on the part of the WRU/clubs not to get him a loan during the RWC but there we go. Think it was pretty clear with the way Gatland selected Aled Davies that he was planning without him.

Anyway, will be interesting to see how Owen Lane goes. Will he be the Cuthbert-esque strike runner Gatland's waiting the unleash. I think he will. I think he'll go ahead of Steff Evans, for sure, and if Pathchell goes he'll get the final back 3 spot with Jonah Holmes missing out.

I agree I always find these pre-tournament friendlies exciting as it is generally a series of trial matches for the larger squad.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 06 May 2019, 3:24 pm

Wales’ Grand Slam winners will be live on Channel 4 when they face England and Ireland at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in the Under Armour Summer Series this August.

Set your box to record Wales’ 2019 summer fixtures:

England v Wales (Twickenham) Sunday August 11.
Wales v England (Principality Stadium) Saturday August 17.
Wales v Ireland (Principality Stadium) Saturday August 31.
Ireland v Wales (Aviva Stadium) Saturday September 7

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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 06 May 2019, 6:38 pm

4 games unbeaten Wink.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 06 May 2019, 11:38 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:4 games unbeaten Wink.

Would be nice to keep an 18month clean sheet

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Post by mikey_dragon on Tue 07 May 2019, 1:32 am

It sure would, can't see it happening though. If we played our best in all four then that's a little risky.


Who from the back 5 do you all see being cut? I think it's the area where we have the most quality. As tough as it as I would cut Jake Ball and James Davies, therefore a 'surprise' recall for Bradley Davies who I think has more than earned it - not a bad fourth choice lock to have I guess. I would keep all the others as I think they're too good to miss out. We can have Shingler as fifth choice lock if needs be, and I hope he and Faletau are healthy enough to get some game time in the warm-ups. I've missed seeing those guys in action.

There's been talk of cutting Navidi from a few fans. I think that's a fatal error. He's one of the best flankers that I've seen come out of Wales and we have a lot of good flankers. Too bad for his team-mate Ellis Jenkins but perhaps we'll see more of him in the future.
Lastly, somehow, we need to swap Rhys Webb for Aled Davies. If it hasn't happened now then it's not happening, so I guess we can forget it.

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Post by Pie on Tue 07 May 2019, 3:05 am

Navidi won't get cut, with his ability to cover 6,7and 8 and Faletau marginal I expect he is already heavily pencilled in subject to that arm healing

I expect he will take

Moriarty
Navidi
Faletau
Shingler
Tipuric

Ellis Jenkins and Wainwright have to be pushing, the latter perhaps the hardest. I think Cubby Boi and everyone else will be on injury standby

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Post by maestegmafia on Tue 07 May 2019, 10:31 am

Backrow is a very tough call lots of good players. Particularly if the injured three get fit in time. Faletau said last week he doesn’t think he will make it. We’ll have to see.

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Post by miaow on Tue 07 May 2019, 2:08 pm

Had hoped to carry this thread through the the start of the RWC as an interesting way of seeing how Wales developed in the 12 months prior, but as I've said over on the Club side, I'm leaving the forum.

Good luck to everyone. Hope Wales capitalise on the potential shown in 2011 and 2015. There's enough ability there, in the players and the coaches, to win the thing outright. The only team Wales will 'fear' is New Zealand, as they're the only team they haven't beaten in this RWC cycle. They've got a 2-1-1 record v Ireland, a very close 1-0-3 record v England where they were in all 3 they were playing for the winning score at 80 minutes (within 7 points). A loss v Scotland was disappointing but fair as they've showed they're a dangerous side, and have beaten every 6Ns team in this cycle and pushed NZ close as well. The wins v SA have been encouraging but I think they're a sleeping giant waiting to pounce and make them 2nd favourites for the tournament behinds the ABs - if Wales deal with their physicality they've shown they can manage a game far better, but at a RWC, SA will be a different beast. Finally got an unconvincing (in terms of scoreline) win v Oz but with them coming up in the groups, we'll see where that back-dwelling monkey's really is. Losing to France was disappointing if surreal, the only time to have done so since the 2011 semi-final. I wonder if Wales have been more dominant v France since the second world war? Worth looking up perhaps...but anyway, Wales have not only got a GS under their belt, but they've got the key wins they've been missing in previous years as well.

We can only hope the 2017 Lions experience will have helped if we have to face NZ but, minus Warburton, I can't see Wales having the mental belief to go and beat NZ unless it's a RWC final - at which point who knows. So hopefully we avoid them as 2016 there's a gap in physical and skill ability that Wales showed little sign of bridging with game management away from home. The 2016 performances were good, but in a 'well done' kind of way rather than any tangible sense of having NZ on the ropes for a majority of the match. Let's hope they have breathing problems in the knockouts if we are drawn against them.

As for everything else, it all hinges on the progression of fixtures in my opinion. For all Wales' strength in depth - which is the best I've known - it hinges on fitness and avoiding a repeat of 2015, which included a tough game v Fiji, two monstrous ties v England and Australia, before running out of steam v SA in the QFs. Beat Australia in the group and they're likely to avoid England and get the 'easier' side of the draw that would avoid NZ (I think?) as well. That's ideal, but it all starts with beating Oz and not slipping up against Fiji.

If Wales can keep their best players fit and their good players in form, they stand a very good chance of winning the thing outright. England have looked more impressive at times but I make Wales a much more impressive as a winning team, and tournament team at that. Ireland...who knows. Schmidt surely has something major up his sleeve but if Wales perform, these two are on par at worst. Crucially, Gatland seems to have the edge in terms of tactics on those two teams - where perhaps he lacks it v the Austrlians, for instance.

I think we can forget how many truly talented and world class players we have at the moment. Warburton's loss aside, there's still Faletau, Liam Williams, and Justin Tipuric, who are arguably the best in their position in the world. Add JD2 to that as well, maybe, and AWJ is a wonderful player, too. As is Ken.

There's a chance for Wales to do something really special and if they have the heart and the ambition to really go and win games, rather than avoid losing them, they can go all the way. I love 2005, as everyone did, and 2008 was in some ways even better as Wales drove their way to the title, rather than jinking and offloading and running everything like 3 years previously. 2011 was amazing and ridiculous but inevitable when you consider the transitional nature of that side - summed up by Priestland, a rookie at 10, and Stephen Jones, who retired not long after.

Yet this team, at the moment, is maybe my favourite as a fan. It feels like it's lacking egos. Not just the likes of Henson and Alfie, but also someone like Jamie Roberts - which might be harsh, but he's a big character with respect and always put his all in to playing for his country, despite his limitations. More importantly, there seems to be more of a meritocracy now, which hasn't always been the case with Gatland, and - from the outside looking in - it appears to be a harmonious squad that isn't far away from really maximising its ability because they're playing like a team and a squad, and not a group of Lions + extras. Halfpenny key there: a Lions hero yet may miss out on a place in the starting 15. That's a good sign for Wales.

I do think the missing ingredient is still an ability and a desire to play running rugby. They can do it when they just tear things up and need to score tries from nothing, but there's almost nothing really in between - it's why Anscombe has been so important as his running threat has helped in that regard slightly. As has Parkes - neither are perfect but they're less robotic than Roberts and less...frustrated...than Scott Williams was. We all know what North and LW can do so hopefully they're given the opportunity.

I won't be going out to Japan but hope anyone who does enjoys it. For a fan, it's about much more than just the rugby. For Wales the rugby team, I hope they're lifting the trophy at the end of this year which would be a really great thing to experience and might do wonders for injecting some passion back in to a country and communities that are in desperate, desperate need of some healthier and more inclusive (i.e. get more people participating not just soften it up) social and communal purpose, of which rugby is surely one of the best ways of doing it. I think we can forget the education system to help out there - individual teachers aside, the system is designed to effectively lop the head off any competition and excellence for the sake of pretending to get young kits fit by doing things no-one loves. I have no idea how the club game can sustain itself, either, unless it adapts to become a central hub in more than just the traditional ways. Looking at the SH, and their approach to sport, is not vastly different to the UK in its structure yet it's so much more successful because of values an 'buy in', I suppose. In essence, it's a healthier, happier society by the looks of things, and spot contributes to, and is a result of, that. It's heartbreaking to see what is happening across the country, the way kids in particular are now being 'got at' through screen technology, and adults alike, no doubt. I have no idea how much impact a Welsh RWC win might have in real terms - but the 2003 win for England was massive. Has too much changed since then to result in a similar sort of uptake and 'goodwill' funding from government to actually address the social and economic issues impacting health and wellbeing in Wales? Maybe. But aside from just celebrating the group of Welshmen on the field, I'd hope any Welsh success would also see positive impacts in what (I think) were named as some of the most impoverished and least healthy parts of the UK.

Strange to think Gatland will be gone at the end of the year. Even with his Lions sabbaticals, he's almost part of the furniture now. I have my misgivings about Pivac - and not so much about his abilities as about his experience and how he copes with the onslaught Gatland put up with for years. There's a love in now but it only really ended once Gatland pulled off the draw in NZ (which is still an insane result when you think about it). I think we're losing one of the best rugby managers in the world, maybe the best at what he does, for some with a more progressive approach to the game but who will no doubt lack what Gatland brought to the table. In any case, the issues with the game do far deeper than the top tier and in many ways Wales' success belies the shambles beneath the international sport - to think the side won a Grand Slam whilst having to deal with the fact some of them were potentially about to be made unemployed as the Ospreys faced a merger with the Scarlets. We are our own worse enemies at times and for all the issues with the Pro14, there are lots of problems Wales could fix internally before looking to that.

Anyway, that's more than enough. Hope Wales win the World Cup in Japan but, if not, hope they at least do themselves proud.

Cheers to those who made this forum enjoyable.

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Post by The Oracle on Tue 07 May 2019, 3:26 pm

I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, Miaow. I haven’t always agreed with you (on the odd club thread or two. On Wales we seem to hold similar views). I prefer reading your lengthy analysis over the one line rants and ‘analysis’ of others!
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Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Tue 07 May 2019, 3:29 pm

'One-line rant' is an oxymoron, isn't it?

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Post by The Oracle on Tue 07 May 2019, 4:43 pm

Luckless Pedestrian wrote:'One-line rant' is an oxymoron, isn't it?

Whistle

You calling me a Moron?! Mods! MODS!!!!

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Post by Pie on Thu 09 May 2019, 3:07 am

The Oracle wrote:
Luckless Pedestrian wrote:'One-line rant' is an oxymoron, isn't it?

Whistle

You calling me a Moron?!  Mods! MODS!!!!


Folau is a bigoted, homophobic, ignorant, anachronistic, inflammatory, arrogant buffoon

1 line rant.


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Post by Pie on Thu 09 May 2019, 4:14 am

Miaow dont leave ffs.

Miaow, Miaow

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Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Thu 09 May 2019, 10:34 am

Pie wrote:
The Oracle wrote:
Luckless Pedestrian wrote:'One-line rant' is an oxymoron, isn't it?

Whistle

You calling me a Moron?!  Mods! MODS!!!!


Folau is a bigoted, homophobic, ignorant, anachronistic, inflammatory, arrogant buffoon

1 line rant.


VERB: Speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way.

NOUN: A spell of ranting; a tirade.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/rant

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Post by The Oracle on Thu 09 May 2019, 10:48 am

In fairness, it's also defined as 'to speak or shout in a loud or angry way'! No mention of 'length' there Whistle
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Post by SecretFly on Thu 09 May 2019, 10:50 am

Pie wrote:Miaow dont leave ffs.

Miaow, Miaow

Ah. Reminds me of one of my very Favouite movies of all time:

"He'd never have been able to shoot you if you'd seen him! - He'd never have even cleared the holdster, would he Miaow? - Pa's got things for you to do! - And mother wants you...wants you...wants you... - I know she does! - Miaow! - MIAOW! - Come back!..... "

Rugby 606 is the best movie ever made....probably. Sad

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 11 May 2019, 10:42 am

Looking at the looseheads in the squad.

Rhys Carre - new boy, uncapped big lump of a player looked very good at u20s has started to show promise this season, enough for Sarries to swoop in and take him

Rob Evans - last years golden boy, injury and a dip in form this season knocked him off being first choice. More than capable to get the first choice tag back and time with the squad might do it

Wyn Jones - had a good season for scarlets with rob evans injured, played well when given international opportunities

Nicky Smith - current golden boy first choice great six nations performances.

Between Evans and Smith we have two very good quality LHs, the back up has plenty of potential. We need Both Smith and Evans to really hit their best. Very tough call if only three looseheads go to Japan.

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Post by EnglishReign on Thu 16 May 2019, 10:43 pm

Average side, seen it all before. Even a broken clock gets it right twice a day. Would never get near England's intensity, which doesn't bode well against the proper teams.

Still, who fancies a sake in Sapporo? I'll be there.

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Post by EnglishReign on Thu 16 May 2019, 10:45 pm

miaow wrote:Had hoped to carry this thread through the the start of the RWC as an interesting way of seeing how Wales developed in the 12 months prior, but as I've said over on the Club side, I'm leaving the forum.

Good luck to everyone. Hope Wales capitalise on the potential shown in 2011 and 2015. There's enough ability there, in the players and the coaches, to win the thing outright. The only team Wales will 'fear' is New Zealand, as they're the only team they haven't beaten in this RWC cycle. They've got a 2-1-1 record v Ireland, a very close 1-0-3 record v England where they were in all 3 they were playing for the winning score at 80 minutes (within 7 points). A loss v Scotland was disappointing but fair as they've showed they're a dangerous side, and have beaten every 6Ns team in this cycle and pushed NZ close as well. The wins v SA have been encouraging but I think they're a sleeping giant waiting to pounce and make them 2nd favourites for the tournament behinds the ABs - if Wales deal with their physicality they've shown they can manage a game far better, but at a RWC, SA will be a different beast. Finally got an unconvincing (in terms of scoreline) win v Oz but with them coming up in the groups, we'll see where that back-dwelling monkey's really is. Losing to France was disappointing if surreal, the only time to have done so since the 2011 semi-final. I wonder if Wales have been more dominant v France since the second world war? Worth looking up perhaps...but anyway, Wales have not only got a GS under their belt, but they've got the key wins they've been missing in previous years as well.

We can only hope the 2017 Lions experience will have helped if we have to face NZ but, minus Warburton, I can't see Wales having the mental belief to go and beat NZ unless it's a RWC final - at which point who knows. So hopefully we avoid them as 2016 there's a gap in physical and skill ability that Wales showed little sign of bridging with game management away from home. The 2016 performances were good, but in a 'well done' kind of way rather than any tangible sense of having NZ on the ropes for a majority of the match. Let's hope they have breathing problems in the knockouts if we are drawn against them.

As for everything else, it all hinges on the progression of fixtures in my opinion. For all Wales' strength in depth - which is the best I've known - it hinges on fitness and avoiding a repeat of 2015, which included a tough game v Fiji, two monstrous ties v England and Australia, before running out of steam v SA in the QFs. Beat Australia in the group and they're likely to avoid England and get the 'easier' side of the draw that would avoid NZ (I think?) as well. That's ideal, but it all starts with beating Oz and not slipping up against Fiji.

If Wales can keep their best players fit and their good players in form, they stand a very good chance of winning the thing outright. England have looked more impressive at times but I make Wales a much more impressive as a winning team, and tournament team at that. Ireland...who knows. Schmidt surely has something major up his sleeve but if Wales perform, these two are on par at worst. Crucially, Gatland seems to have the edge in terms of tactics on those two teams - where perhaps he lacks it v the Austrlians, for instance.

I think we can forget how many truly talented and world class players we have at the moment. Warburton's loss aside, there's still Faletau, Liam Williams, and Justin Tipuric, who are arguably the best in their position in the world. Add JD2 to that as well, maybe, and AWJ is a wonderful player, too. As is Ken.

There's a chance for Wales to do something really special and if they have the heart and the ambition to really go and win games, rather than avoid losing them, they can go all the way. I love 2005, as everyone did, and 2008 was in some ways even better as Wales drove their way to the title, rather than jinking and offloading and running everything like 3 years previously. 2011 was amazing and ridiculous but inevitable when you consider the transitional nature of that side - summed up by Priestland, a rookie at 10, and Stephen Jones, who retired not long after.

Yet this team, at the moment, is maybe my favourite as a fan. It feels like it's lacking egos. Not just the likes of Henson and Alfie, but also someone like Jamie Roberts - which might be harsh, but he's a big character with respect and always put his all in to playing for his country, despite his limitations. More importantly, there seems to be more of a meritocracy now, which hasn't always been the case with Gatland, and - from the outside looking in - it appears to be a harmonious squad that isn't far away from really maximising its ability because they're playing like a team and a squad, and not a group of Lions + extras. Halfpenny key there: a Lions hero yet may miss out on a place in the starting 15. That's a good sign for Wales.

I do think the missing ingredient is still an ability and a desire to play running rugby. They can do it when they just tear things up and need to score tries from nothing, but there's almost nothing really in between - it's why Anscombe has been so important as his running threat has helped in that regard slightly. As has Parkes - neither are perfect but they're less robotic than Roberts and less...frustrated...than Scott Williams was. We all know what North and LW can do so hopefully they're given the opportunity.

I won't be going out to Japan but hope anyone who does enjoys it. For a fan, it's about much more than just the rugby. For Wales the rugby team, I hope they're lifting the trophy at the end of this year which would be a really great thing to experience and might do wonders for injecting some passion back in to a country and communities that are in desperate, desperate need of some healthier and more inclusive (i.e. get more people participating not just soften it up) social and communal purpose, of which rugby is surely one of the best ways of doing it. I think we can forget the education system to help out there - individual teachers aside, the system is designed to effectively lop the head off any competition and excellence for the sake of pretending to get young kits fit by doing things no-one loves. I have no idea how the club game can sustain itself, either, unless it adapts to become a central hub in more than just the traditional ways. Looking at the SH, and their approach to sport, is not vastly different to the UK in its structure yet it's so much more successful because of values an 'buy in', I suppose. In essence, it's a healthier, happier society by the looks of things, and spot contributes to, and is a result of, that. It's heartbreaking to see what is happening across the country, the way kids in particular are now being 'got at' through screen technology, and adults alike, no doubt. I have no idea how much impact a Welsh RWC win might have in real terms - but the 2003 win for England was massive. Has too much changed since then to result in a similar sort of uptake and 'goodwill' funding from government to actually address the social and economic issues impacting health and wellbeing in Wales? Maybe. But aside from just celebrating the group of Welshmen on the field, I'd hope any Welsh success would also see positive impacts in what (I think) were named as some of the most impoverished and least healthy parts of the UK.

Strange to think Gatland will be gone at the end of the year. Even with his Lions sabbaticals, he's almost part of the furniture now. I have my misgivings about Pivac - and not so much about his abilities as about his experience and how he copes with the onslaught Gatland put up with for years. There's a love in now but it only really ended once Gatland pulled off the draw in NZ (which is still an insane result when you think about it). I think we're losing one of the best rugby managers in the world, maybe the best at what he does, for some with a more progressive approach to the game but who will no doubt lack what Gatland brought to the table. In any case, the issues with the game do far deeper than the top tier and in many ways Wales' success belies the shambles beneath the international sport - to think the side won a Grand Slam whilst having to deal with the fact some of them were potentially about to be made unemployed as the Ospreys faced a merger with the Scarlets. We are our own worse enemies at times and for all the issues with the Pro14, there are lots of problems Wales could fix internally before looking to that.

Anyway, that's more than enough. Hope Wales win the World Cup in Japan but, if not, hope they at least do themselves proud.

Cheers to those who made this forum enjoyable.

Cheerio. You made talking rubbish an art form.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 16 May 2019, 11:09 pm

"You made talking rubbish an art form." - nah I think you still got that, so how about exiting the forum, or at least this thread? We choose not to have bitter English on here.

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Post by Pie on Fri 17 May 2019, 3:11 am

EnglishReign wrote:Average side, seen it all before. Even a broken clock gets it right twice a day. Would never get near England's intensity, which doesn't bode well against the proper teams.

Still, who fancies a sake in Sapporo? I'll be there.

Would that be the 'intensity' they displayed in the 2nd half v Scots or in Cardiff Laugh Laugh Laugh Laugh


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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 17 May 2019, 7:12 am

Unnecessary wumming Englishreign

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 24 May 2019, 10:02 am

Finally an agreement with English clubs to release welsh players when the WRU request them.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/wales-full-access-england-based-16323587

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Post by BamBam on Fri 24 May 2019, 10:31 am

Its a global deal agreed by World Rugby, slightly disingenuous of that article to paint it out to be a success for the WRU

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 24 May 2019, 10:32 am

maestegmafia wrote:Finally an agreement with English clubs to release welsh players when the WRU request them.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/wales-full-access-england-based-16323587

Should be noted this affects all clubs who have foreign internationals on their books. 

Glad it has been resolved as, to me anyway, it seemed unfair for clubs to carry the risk when players were injured while with their country.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 24 May 2019, 11:39 am

BamBam wrote:Its a global deal agreed by World Rugby, slightly disingenuous of that article to paint it out to be a success for the WRU



Not in the slightest bit disingenuous the praise has been given to World Rugby, the WRU are not even mentioned in the article once..!

“World Rugby has announced that compensation available will double from £225,000 to £500,000.”

It’s great news for Wales, it’s great news for all nations, giving everyone a level playing field. If the PRL are happy that let’s a hell of a lot of countries have access to their star players which should improve the RWC.

It’s good news all round for everyone.


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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 24 May 2019, 11:40 am

LondonTiger wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:Finally an agreement with English clubs to release welsh players when the WRU request them.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/wales-full-access-england-based-16323587

Should be noted this affects all clubs who have foreign internationals on their books. 

Glad it has been resolved as, to me anyway, it seemed unfair for clubs to carry the risk when players were injured while with their country.

It was very unfair and an infuriatingly pedantic situation.

Must be a huge relief for the players too.

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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 24 May 2019, 11:44 am

maestegmafia wrote:
BamBam wrote:Its a global deal agreed by World Rugby, slightly disingenuous of that article to paint it out to be a success for the WRU

It’s great news for all nations, giving everyone a level playing field. If the PRL are happy that let’s a hell of a lot of countries have access to their star players which should improve the RWC.

It’s good news all round for everyone.

It is good news all round. Saves SRU some money as they were having to pay extra insurance to get Blade Thompson's (sp?) release. That LNR have signed up is probably more beneficial to the game as the players released there will in general be to countries who would have struggled to pay to insure their players and gain their release.

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