Wales Autumn Contenders

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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 08: Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach looks on during the Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on July 8, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The Autumn Internationals are less than a month away. Here are the 40 players that are Wales’ autumn contenders for the squad head coach Warren Gatland will pick to face Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Georgia.

Forwards

Front Row

Props- Rob Evans, Nicky Smith, Tomas Francis, Samson Lee, Wyn Jones, Kieran Assiratti.

Hookers- Ken Owens, Elliot Dee, Kristian Dacey, Ryan Elias.

The Scarlets have a possibility of five representatives in the front row selection, proving their might up front as well as their depth. Hooker is going to be a hard one to narrow down to the three names, as Gatland is unlikely to select four hookers for only four Test matches.

When it comes to who will miss out on selection, it will probably be between Dee and Elias with Owens and Dacey a regular favourite amongst the Welsh coaching staff.

The Ospreys poor form hasn’t held back Nicky Smith, who had a really good game against high flyers Scarlets and he may well be one of the minority call ups from the Swansea based side.

Second Row

Alun Wyn-Jones, Jake Ball, Luke Charteris, Seb Davies, Cory Hill.

Having been capped twice in Wales’ summer tour, the young Seb Davies has been oozing confidence whilst playing for the Cardiff Blues this season. He is the in form Welsh lock right now, up there with the Scarlets Jake Ball who also makes it on to this list.

It’s good to see Ball playing back at his best, accompanying Tadhg Beirne, who will sadly be leaving the Scarlets for Munster at the end of the year. Another strong pool of locks for Gatland to select from.

Back Row

Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriaty, Thomas Young, Talaupe Faletau, Ollie Griffths, Josh Navidi.

When it comes to Wales autumn contenders the back row is usully the area with most contentious selections due to the immense strength in depth. However, with Sam Warburton injured long term this does mean there is an extra slot available.

Griffths’ improvement at Rodney Parade has been impressive over the last few months, earning him a really good chance to add to his sole Welsh cap. Shingler has also been in hot form with Wales’ leading Region, the Scarlets.

Moriaty is hopeful to be fit in time to play the first Test and so gets a spot in the squad.

Backs

Half Backs

Gareth Davies, Aled Davies, Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell, Rhys Priestland, Sam Davies.

The half back selection is more likely going to favour those already in the Gatland train of thought. Therefore Priestland is unlikely to feature despite his good form. Additional thoughts on ‘Gatlands Law’ include http://lastwordonrugby.com/2017/10/02/priestlands-form-a-sign-that-gatlands-law-must-go/

Aled Davies has been the back-up to Gareth Davies down in Llanelli, but this hasn’t stopped him putting in  good set of performances when he has played. Tomos Williams down at the Blues isn’t far off the squad, but with so many other scrum halves in the mix it is unlikely that Welsh fans will get to see him just yet.

Centres

Jonathan Davies, Tyler Morgan, Owen Williams, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts.

It’s expected that Gatland and Howley will employ similar tactics used in previous games, therefore Roberts is an absolute shoe-in for the twelve jersey. Tyler Morgan has looked impressive so far this season, in a Dragons squad ravaged by injury he is certainly taking his chances as they come.

Owen Williams hasn’t quite fulfilled the form that he found throughout last season quite yet, but with him being able to cover fly half he is a valuable asset to have in the squad. Jon Davies also comes off the back of a very impressive Lions campaign, which has seen him follow that through into the Scarlets domestic season.

Back Three

Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Liam Williams, Hallum Amos, Steffan Evans.

Perhaps the hardest selection in the back three is deciding on who starts at full back leading to which position does Liam Williams play.  It’s fair to say he has been Wales’ best attacking option amongst the back three players in the last few season’s.

Wales autumn contenders are slightly different this year. North has regained form and looks dangerous as ever for the Northampton Saints, Halfpenny looks revitalised under Stephen Jones at the Scarlets along with Steff Evans who is proving why he is one of the most dangerous up and coming wingers in world rugby.

Halfpenny is unlikely to miss out on a starting spot in a Gatland selected side, especially with his kicking ability, but with Steff Evans showing sublime form at Parc Y Scarlets it is easily understood why so many are calling for him to at least start the Georgia Test.

Altogether Wales autumn contenders are largely the same faces as we have seen before, but with a lot of fresh faces poking up into the system. Gatland will have his work cut out to please fans as well as get results.

Wales Autumn Tests

  • Saturday, 11 November. Wales v Australia (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
  • Saturday, 18 November. Wales v Georgia (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
  • Saturday, 25 November. Wales v New Zealand (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
  • Saturday, 2 December. Wales v South Africa (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)

 

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