Six Nations Preview: Wales

Wales’ classic style under Warren Gatland has been based on power with big ball carriers crashing into the line and using brute force to win games which for a time was successful in the northern hemisphere.

There’s been a shift in style recently with a new fly-half pulling the strings Wales have very much become a far more diverse and threatening opponent as shown by a clean sweep in the autumn.

Fixtures

vs. France (Stade de France), Fri 1st February, 20:00

vs. Italy (Stadio Olimpico), Sat 9th February, 16:45

vs. England (Principality Stadium), Sat 23rd February, 16:45

vs. Scotland (BT Murrayfield), Sat 9th March, 14:15

vs. Ireland (Principality Stadium), Sat 16th March, 14:45

Despite having only two fixtures at home Wales arguably have the best chance of completing a Grand Slam. The favourites Ireland and World Rugby’s 4th ranked team England both face a trip to the cauldron of Cardiff.

If Wales can win their first game away to France they will be confident of toppling Italy and Scotland away and they will always back themselves at home.

Wales have not lost a game since round there of last years Six Nations. Their autumn was very impressive as they swept aside Scotland, Tonga and Australia as well as claiming an impressive 20-11 win over South Africa.

This followed their win over South Africa in Washington DC just five months before which they followed up with two comprehensive wins over Argentina.

Wales have injuries aplenty especially in their back row. Taulupe Faletau is a notable absentee and despite being named in the squad Ross Moriarty is unlikely to play against France, as well as Adam Beard a doubt for the first game.

toby_faletau_2011
By Salman Javed – Flickr: Wales vs Australia, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17129655

Add into that injuries to Aaron Shingler, Ellis Jenkins and James Davies and Wales look very light indeed in the back row even with cover provided by Wasps Thomas Young and Cardiff’s Josh Turnbull.

Leigh Halfpenny will miss Wales’ opening two matches but should be fit in time to face England.

Wales have no uncapped players in the squad but one cap duo Jarrod Evans and Jonah Holmes feature. Lions star Alun Wyn Jones will captain from the engine room.

Jarrod Evans is among four fly-halves, Dan Bigger, Gareth Anscombe and Rhys Patchell are all also in the squad. Gatland will have a selection headache there.

Rugby360’s 23

1 Rob EVANS 2 Ken OWENS 3 Tomas FRANCIS 4 Alun Wyn JONES (Captain) 5 Jake BALL 6 Aaron WAINWRIGHT 7 Justin TIPURIC 8 Josh NAVIDI

9 Gareth DAVIES 10 Gareth ANSCOMBE 11 George NORTH 12 Hadleigh PARKES 13 Jonathan DAVIES 14 Jonah HOLMES 15 Liam WILLIAMS

16 Elliot DEE 17 Nicky SMITH 18 Samson LEE 19 Cory HILL 20 Thomas YOUNG 21 Aled DAVIES 22 Dan BIGGAR 23 Josh ADAMS