Assessing Wales’ Options Ahead Of The Autumn Internationals

Time to build some experience?

With Wales facing one of the toughest Autumn schedules in recent memory (they go up against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa), Warren Gatland and co will be have been devastated to find out that Sam Warburton will miss up to four months of rugby due to a recurring neck injury.

The 2017 Lions captain would have been guaranteed to start in the backrow, whether it be at seven or his newly-discovered position of six. Having been included in Shane Williams’ XV (whose selection choices raised a few eyebrows), it will be interesting to see how Wales cope in his absence.

With Gatland having been criticised in recent years for failing to blood new players, we examine three potential XV’s that Gatland could go with for the internationals.

The experienced XV

This will probably be the most likely team to feature in the opening game against Australia, and the two Tests against New Zealand and South Africa. Almost identical to William’s XV, I have decided to include Luke Charteris at lock over the winger’s choice of Jake Ball, and I also believe that Liam Williams will play on the wing, with Leigh Halpenny claiming the 15 Jersey.

At flanker (with Warburton out) it looks to be a choice between Dan Lydiate and Ross Moriaty. If the latter is fit, he may get the nod but I believe Lydiate will just nick it.

1) Rob Evans
2) Ken Owens
3) Samson Lee
4) Luke Charteris
5) Alun-Wyn Jones (Captain)
6) Dan Lydiate
7) Justin Tipuric
8) Taulupe Faletau
9) Rhys Webb
10) Dan Biggar
11) Liam Williams
12) Scott Williams
13) Jonathan Davies
14) George North
15) Leigh Halfpenny

The ‘up and coming XV’

As unlikely as it is, Gatland may decide that this is the perfect time to increase the depth in his squad, just two years out from the 2019 World Cup. Perhaps a team to line out against Georgia, this youthful squad will look to push the more experienced players for Test jerseys.

1) Wyn Jones
2) Ryan Elias
3) Dillon Lewis
4) Cory Hill (Captain)
5) Seb Davies
6) Ollie Cracknell
7) Thomas Young
8) Josh Navidi
9) Aled Davies
10) Sam Davies
11) Steff Evans
12) Tyler Morgan
13) Cory Allen
14) Keelan Giles
15) Gareth Anscombe

A mixed XV

Whilst experience may be the key to living with the three southern hemisphere titans and the Welsh contingent did perform very well on the Lions tour, there is no reason why Gatland shouldn’t look at alternative options in various positions. Although Dan Biggar played very well, and was unfortunate not to feature in the Test matches, Wales will now have to potentially start preparing for life without the 27-year-old with his impending move to Northampton.

Steff Evans is also deserving of a place in the starting XV, Leigh Halfpenny has looked solid for Scarlets, but Wales need to start looking at more attacking players if they are to challenge the All Blacks in particular, so George North only just creeps in on the right wing.

1) Rob Evans
2) Ken Owens
3) Thomas Francis
4) Luke Charteris
5) Alun-Wyn Jones (Captain)
6) Thomas Young (Ross Moriaty would be included if he is fit)
7) Justin Tipuric
8) Taulupe Faletau
9) Rhys Webb
10) Sam Davies
11) Steff Evans
12) Scott Williams
13) Jonathan Davies
14) George North
15) Liam WIlliams

Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis

Stephen is a former rugby player and dedicated fan. About to embark at Oxford Brookes studying History and Politics, Stephen is keen to give his opinion on all things rugby related.
Stephen Lewis