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 2 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 miaow on Sat 05 Jan 2019, 2:52 pm

The way both teams have played this season - individually, as much as collectively - suggests that quite a few Dragons players will be in the squad for the World Cup. Could easily see Jared Rosser sneaking a place and Steff Evans missing out, for example.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 05 Jan 2019, 3:27 pm

miaow wrote:The way both teams have played this season - individually, as much as collectively - suggests that quite a few Dragons players will be in the squad for the World Cup. Could easily see Jared Rosser sneaking a place and Steff Evans missing out, for example.

Adam Warren would be another. He has played really well. Only one cap to his name but rarely makes a mistake.

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Post by maestegmafia on Thu 10 Jan 2019, 1:23 pm

I see that the Dragons have selected Halam Amos at outside centre this Friday

I think he might suit the 13 shirt

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Post by miaow on Thu 10 Jan 2019, 3:33 pm

Sadly, he's too to slow to ever make it as a reliable top 3 player. He also appears to be too small as well to make it in the centres, like Tyler Morgan, but I think he may stand a better chance there than on the wing, because I'd guess he has the talent and drive to adapt his game.

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Post by maestegmafia on Fri 11 Jan 2019, 10:10 am

miaow wrote:Sadly, he's too to slow to ever make it as a reliable top 3 player. He also appears to be too small as well to make it in the centres, like Tyler Morgan, but I think he may stand a better chance there than on the wing, because I'd guess he has the talent and drive to adapt his game.

Let’s see how he goes this could be a very good move.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 12 Jan 2019, 10:32 am

The squad to be announced on the 21st, thoughts are that it will be a 39 man squad.

My guess at the squad would be made up of

Rob Evans Wynn Jones Nicky Smith

Eliot Dee Ken Owens Scot Baldwin

Dillon Lewis Samson Lee Tom Francis

AWJ Beard Hill Seb Davis

Tipuric Nalvidi Griffiths Young

Turnball Wainwright Cracknell

Faletau Moriarty

Gareth Aled Tomos

Anscombe Bigger Patchell

Scott Owen JD2 Cory Owen Williams

North Adams Amos Morgan

Liam Jonah

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Post by Pie on Sat 12 Jan 2019, 4:56 pm

Faletau looking superb for Bath, created a wonderful try....playing at 6 as well. Now that would be interesting...Tipuric, Faletau, Moriarty.

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Post by miaow on Sat 12 Jan 2019, 7:57 pm

In many ways, don't think it matters who wears 6 and 8 too much. If Moriarty and Faletau play together, Moriarty is doing the dog work in defence, allowing Faletau to play around the fringes and in the wide channels. The issue with Tipuric is he takes the #8 role on the wide channels during phase play. Meaning Faletau is less likely to crop up in transitional situations and use his balanced running skills and handling.

I'm not really sure why Wales would pick Faletau at 6, but if they did want to, I'm sure he'd be great there. Just don't think they need to/realistically have anyone to play 8 alongside him.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 12 Jan 2019, 9:18 pm

I was at the Rec this afternoon and thought all the welsh players played very well. Priestland had a very good game at flyhalf, controlled well attacked the line beautifully and regularly got the back line attacking well.

Charteris captained bath superbly. Was an immense performance, really at his best, great to see as I think we all forgot about him as an option.

Tom Youngs was everywhere, an absolute nuisance for bath to deal with. Superb over the ball and in support in attack.

Alex Brew looked fast and sharp and the man in side him Max Clark who is also welsh did too.


Last edited by maestegmafia on Sat 12 Jan 2019, 10:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by The Oracle on Sat 12 Jan 2019, 10:03 pm

Good review Maes. Love how you managed to spell nearly all of their names wrong though! Haha Laugh Hope you had a good day out! Ale RedWine

Seriously though, good to hear they’re doing well at Bath. Can’t remember whether they’re all caught up in the selection rules or not, should we need to call on them?
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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 12 Jan 2019, 10:51 pm

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Charteris get the call up for the six nations squad

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Post by Pie on Sun 13 Jan 2019, 12:28 am

maestegmafia wrote:I wouldn’t be surprised to see Charteris get the call up for the six nations squad

I agree; he's smart and proven with height and awesome maul defense. Good call. A Charteris Beard lineout would be a challenge for any side.

Priestland is a great backup to the triumvirate in favor at the moment


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Post by miaow on Sun 13 Jan 2019, 12:33 am

Particularly with Shingler out, there's definitely an argument for bringing Charteris back in. I can't see Gatland doing it - the ECC (a dead rubber at that, let's not forget that - for the Scarlets players who performed well tonight as well) is a step down from test rugby. It's just not the same.

He's the wrong since of 35 and has had poor luck with injuries. But I do think we lack a lanky 'nuisance' at lineout time the way Shingler is. Charteris also defensively solid - never misses a tackle it seems. Not like for like, Shingler and Charteris, ofc, but a good comparison/awareness of how good Charteris was at RWCs (2011 immense from seemingly nowhere, 2015 v effective at maul destruction) and how Wales have missed it since.

Priestland arguably still the best 10 Wales could pick. Arguably...

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 13 Jan 2019, 1:44 am

With Biggar taking a knock today, no news on the severity, they may call on priestland for the six nations. Not sure who else could be considered fourth choice?

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Post by miaow on Sun 13 Jan 2019, 11:33 am

Priestland's below 60 caps isn't he? With Patchell out as well, it opens the door for Anscombe to nail the Poopie. Think Jarrod Evans and Sam Davies would get called up if both Patchell and Biggar are out.

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Post by miaow on Sun 13 Jan 2019, 11:33 am

Orrrr...return of the Gav...?

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 13 Jan 2019, 11:49 pm

Glad to see dragons put Henson at 12 when he came on, great try assist...

Looks like Biggars injury is not so bad.

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Post by Pie on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 12:25 am

I with Gats would give Gav one last shot, he is sublime on form as shown just the other day. He is old but JD2 aside, no player since Scott Gibbs has offered so much in the centre.

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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 9:18 am

miaow wrote:Priestland's below 60 caps isn't he? With Patchell out as well, it opens the door for Anscombe to nail the Poopie. Think Jarrod Evans and Sam Davies would get called up if both Patchell and Biggar are out.

As he started at Bath before that rule came in I thought he was exempt from that rule? However he should not really be under consideration. Into what is I think his fourth season at Bath he has never really been more than solid and was largely second choice to first Ford and now Burns. Wales would be much better off having a younger player on the bench if Biggar and Patchell are unavailable.

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Post by miaow on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 12:20 pm

The 'rules' are so convoluted I'm not even sure anymore. I thought he signed a contract extension post-rule update, but perhaps not.

Patchell won't be picked - head injuries and lack of form, I think he'll take a look at Sam Davies personally as he hasn't been involved for a while and is playing fairly well.

I don't disagree about Priestland not being great. But when he clicks, he is very good. Also, you can't overlook the favouritism in England/Bath (even without Mike Ford) towards George Ford, who still flatters to deceive in my opinion. Burns has done surprisingly well from what I've seen, but again, I don't think there's too much in it.

Anyway, blooding players etc. not a concern for Gatland now. Everything is focused on the RWC. With Biggar out, he may want experience, and Priestland might offer that.

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Post by miaow on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 12:24 pm

Also, Harry Millard impressed against Glasgow yesterday.

13 is probably the weakest position for depth. Scott Williams probably second choice, but that's not ideal. Watkin likewise.

Can see Gatland actually going for an uncapped player now in Millard, particularly as Tyler Morgan seems unfortunately injury prone and has never really established himself.

Likewise, I think there are still wing places up for grabs. Owen Lane, Jared Rosser etc. stand a great chance.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 12:45 pm

I would like to think that the larger squad for this six nations is relatively open on selection. Players like Tom Young’s, Ollie Griffiths, Sam Davies, Rosser, Lane, Sam David even a few old fellas like Henson, Charteris, Priestland could all put forward for inclusion.

When it comes to the rwc, it is only about picking the form squad and best team

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Post by miaow on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 1:07 pm

It isn't and it isn't maesteg. Things have changed in the last 10 years. Particularly now with the tiered system of contract payments, it's fairly clear there is a wider 'Wales possibles and Wales probables' group of players in the regions. They will already be on fitness plans for the autumn (Rob Evans looks like he's in bulking season, for sure!) as well as being drip fed tactical improvements with a view to implementing them at the RWC.

Henson's last chance was 2011 - it was shame he got injured against England, as you never know, having someone like him in the semi final might have made a difference. Particularly with the way Hook defended and kicked from 15...

Griffiths, Young etc are too far down the pecking order. No point wasting valuable time on a resource you're unlikely to use. I may be wrong here, but I can only see outside backs and/or serious injury problems resulting in uncapped players or rookies being called up.

As Gatland has shown with his Lions selections, form isn't that important.

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Post by Pie on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 3:07 pm

maestegmafia wrote:I would like to think that the larger squad for this six nations is relatively open on selection. Players like Tom Young’s, Ollie Griffiths, Sam Davies, Rosser, Lane, Sam David even a few old fellas like Henson, Charteris, Priestland could all put forward for inclusion.

When it comes to the rwc, it is only about picking the form squad and best team

I think these old names may be in the '60' that went to the Vale but I also think that in term so f selections Gats isn't going to go to wide at this point as he knows he has to hone down the cadre for his 31 man RWC squad.

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Post by Pie on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 3:29 pm

He won't pick Priestland, he lacks confidence and cant handle pressure. I expect he will pick Patchell as he knows that when fit he is the perfect back up 10 who can play 15...Gats point of difference remember and why Ken has reinvented himself as an 8.

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Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 4:15 pm

The squad's announced tomorrow.

Sorry if that's not news to anyone else - it was news to me!

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Post by miaow on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 4:19 pm

Haha, I'm not sure we'll see Ken at 8 for Wales to be perfectly honest Pie...although I think a few might love to see it v Italy!

But don't disagree with you on the 10 shirt. Problem is Patchell has had a serious concussion, and now a muscular injury that can be debillitating for a kicker. Could be out for the rest of the season - or he could be back in a fortnight (general consensus is end of this month). I tend to think, if there's a risk, because Gatland sees him as 3rd choice anyway, he's not going to risk him until the third game of the tournament.

Which, if Biggar is struggling - or Anscombe gets injured as well - it opens the door for Priestland, even as a stop gap.

But I tend to agree. For him personally, as well, a bit like Cuthbert - why flog yourself with Wales given the way you were treated. Take the money, and potentially more enjoyable/rewarding environment, and stay in England or go to France rather than move back in the hope of making the RWC squad.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 7:04 pm

You may well be right mate

Gays might keep his squad from the last 12 months quite tight. I hear a rumour Owen Lane is going to be called up from a pretty good source

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Post by RiscaGame on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 7:14 pm

Unfortunate breaking news: Unconfirmed, but looks like Taulupe Faletau out of Wales’ Six Nations campaign with broken arm suffered in action for Bath against Wasps. Same arm as previous injury. Huge blow.

Alex Bywater.

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Post by miaow on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 7:20 pm

Ken Owens for #8 then!

Not surprised with Lane. Looks like a natural Cuthbert replacement. Likewise Rosser. Both deserve a shot. Steff Evans is playing himself out of the RWC.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 7:32 pm

If available, then Jarrod Evans is next in line. First and second choice is Anscombe and Biggar right now. I have to agree that Priestland isn’t up to it. I don’t hear much positive about him since his move to Bath, and that’s in spite of WOL’s desperate efforts. Having watched Sam Davies since U20s I honestly don’t have a clue how he’s been playing pro rugby for this long. His weaknesses far outweigh his moderate kicking game which is the only thing he has going for him - as harsh as it sounds this is the result of a player with limited capabilities getting access to the best training and opportunities that daddy could get. He’s good at semi-pro ruby, nothing more. And I actually have a feeling that Priestland could be on his way to the liberty...

I have to agree with most of those other suggestions bar Turnbull. I also can’t see us calling up any more 7s which rules out Griffiths, Youngs and Cubby. Open-side is likely to be Tips, Navidi and Wainright. Me personally, I prefer the Pivac back-row which could see something like Hill, Tips and Navidi - it does seem likely with Shingler, Lydiate and Moriarty largely unavailable. As for Faletau, I’d ease him back in. Owens covering 8 wouldn’t be unusual given our injury stockpiles.
We also had three open sides play against SA, and whilst that is often a good option it probably isn’t against breakdown orientated teams like SA, NZ and Ireland.

Parkes still looks way off colour so I would start Watkin. I’m not sure about Millard but Adam Warren seems like a good option over Tyler Morgan. Owen Lane would be rewarding form, Holmes deserves another shot, 15 still has some vacancies so whoever can cover there gets in; Daf Howells anyone? Should have been in the autumn squad. No Henson whatsoever.
Charteris is a tough one, but makes sense as a stop-gap if Hill will be playing 6. How long can Charteris last, 15 mins? Does anyone rate Seb Davies as a lock at international level? I’m not sure. He seems to blow hot and cold to me.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 7:33 pm

RiscaGame wrote:Unfortunate breaking news: Unconfirmed, but looks like Taulupe Faletau out of Wales’ Six Nations campaign with broken arm suffered in action for Bath against Wasps. Same arm as previous injury. Huge blow.

Alex Bywater.

Yikes, he’s like been injured for 2 years now? He definitely would have made a difference coming off our now competitive bench...

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 8:46 pm

Confirmed on BBC. Really unfortunate for him. Something in the water seeing as his cousin did almost identically. Noticed Vunipola was wearing some sort of arm supports at the weekend he agent had before.

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Post by maestegmafia on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 10:26 pm

Oh that’s a real shame for him. Poor lad only just got back.

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Post by No9 on Mon 14 Jan 2019, 11:36 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:
RiscaGame wrote:Unfortunate breaking news: Unconfirmed, but looks like Taulupe Faletau out of Wales’ Six Nations campaign with broken arm suffered in action for Bath against Wasps. Same arm as previous injury. Huge blow.

Alex Bywater.

Yikes, he’s like been injured for 2 years now? He definitely would have made a difference coming off our now competitive bench...

Ken Owens can stand in at 8 no worries.... Whistle


ooops sorry, just spotted this had been done... censored

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Post by Pie on Tue 15 Jan 2019, 4:45 am

I think TF should take time off to get that arm right before his career ends prematurely. He was clearly rushed back and with RWC coming up what is the point doing that. He is a freak and as shown last weekend doesn't need to warm up. He just needs to be fully fit and then let him loose. Terrible shame but not the worst thing for the side; Navidi may just have been sentenced to a long tournament as back row bench cover though. Can Turnbull/Seb cover 8 as well?

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Post by munkian on Tue 15 Jan 2019, 8:13 am

Player welfare in the English league is shocking, as soon as players like Talupe leave the better.
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Tue 15 Jan 2019, 10:45 am

Poor wum especially as you can't spell the guys name!

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Post by maestegmafia on Tue 15 Jan 2019, 12:20 pm

munkian wrote:Player welfare in the English league is shocking, as soon as players like Talupe leave the better.

George North has been in great shape since he returned, I think you have a point

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Post by miaow on Tue 15 Jan 2019, 12:29 pm

Interesting squad.

Forwards: Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Nicky Smith; Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens; Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Samson Lee, Dillon Lewis; Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones; Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Josh Turnbull, Aaron Wainwright, Thomas Young.

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

No Lane. No Rosser. No Luke Morgan. Steff Evans in there on form of the last 3 seasons rather than the last 8 months or so. I felt there was a place for at least one new outside back at least - but maybe we'll see them in the summer.

No surprises in the forwards. Elias is head and shoulders ahead ahead of Dacey as a player. Likewise Baldwin. Otten should've kicked on and replaced him by now. Hooker is looking very strong. Would like to see Dillon Lewis get some exposure at scrum time, he's looking like a really good prospect and it's almost inevitable that one of Samson and Francis will have injury problems in the RWC.

Other than that, there's no real surprise. Perhaps the only surprise is at home many injured players Gatland's picked.

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Post by chris_501 on Tue 15 Jan 2019, 2:24 pm

It's a good squad, the injured players selected should be back for at least part of the tournament, I think Gatland has selected them so that he can keep an eye on them in training, quite a few are concussion injuries, so will be able to do a certain level of fitness.

Players that I would like to see get some game time are Elias, Seb Davies (at lock), Young, Tomos Williams and Amos. I think all those guys have the potential to be stars.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 11:11 am

Is Talupe trying to carbon copy his cousin, break and arm - mend- play a game and break it again. Almost identical to BV. Is it the same break that had not healed properly or a different one?

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Post by RiscaGame on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 12:47 pm

I don’t think we will experiment much at all, so Young etc might not play. The management are making a fair bit of going for the Championship etc.

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Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 12:52 pm

RiscaGame wrote:I don’t think we will experiment much at all, so Young etc might not play. The management are making a fair bit of going for the Championship etc.

If we leave Paris with a win, they might make changes against Italy.

Speaking of leaving Paris, apparently they're going to stay in France after the match and go from there straight to Italy, to replicate being away from home at the World Cup.

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Post by BamBam on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 12:57 pm

That seems quite smart

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Post by munkian on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 1:07 pm

Luckless Pedestrian wrote:
RiscaGame wrote:I don’t think we will experiment much at all, so Young etc might not play. The management are making a fair bit of going for the Championship etc.

If we leave Paris with a win, they might make changes against Italy.

Speaking of leaving Paris, apparently they're going to stay in France after the match and go from there straight to Italy, to replicate being away from home at the World Cup.

A week in Nice - can't be bad.
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Post by maestegmafia on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 2:29 pm

munkian wrote:
Luckless Pedestrian wrote:
RiscaGame wrote:I don’t think we will experiment much at all, so Young etc might not play. The management are making a fair bit of going for the Championship etc.

If we leave Paris with a win, they might make changes against Italy.

Speaking of leaving Paris, apparently they're going to stay in France after the match and go from there straight to Italy, to replicate being away from home at the World Cup.

A week in Nice - can't be bad.

Cote d’Azur or Glamorgan this time of year, I know what I would prefer..!

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Post by RiscaGame on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 3:42 pm

Hensol isn’t without its charm.

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Wales finally have strength in depth...so who actually starts at the RWC!? - Page 2 Empty Re: Wales finally have strength in depth...so who actually starts at the RWC!?

Post by miaow on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 5:18 pm

Looking forward to seeing what Thomas Young can do.

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Post by Pie on Wed 16 Jan 2019, 8:16 pm

Hope more than just polish the bench this time as I cant see him even on the bench unless Tips/Moriarty/Navidi and Wainwright get crocked

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