Warren Gatland and Rob Howley announced their 23 man squad with Wales set to face Australia at the Principality Stadium yesterday morning. There were a few surprises in store when the team-sheet came out.
Wales Set to Face Australia: match day squad
- Rob Evans
- Ken Owens
- Tomas Francis
- Jake Ball
- Alun Wyn Jones (C)
- Aaron Shingler
- Josh Navidi
- Talaupe Faltau
- Gareth Davies
- Dan Biggar
- Steff Evans
- Owen Williams
- Jon Davies
- Liam Williams
- Leigh Halfpenny
(Note: See how Robert’s initial thought’s compared to the actual squad)
Kristian Dacey, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown*, Cory Hill, Sam Cross*, Aled Davies, Owen Watkin*, Hallum Amos.
* Denotes uncapped players
Here is Robert Rees’ thoughts on how Wales must approach Australia.
Despite a significant amount of game time on recent weeks, it’s Tomas Francis who gets the nod over Samson Lee or uncapped Leon Brown. In form Seb Davies misses out, with Cory Hill taking the bench spot whilst uncapped Sam Cross (see above picture) earns a spot on the bench to cover the back row.
Considering his form, Rhys Priestland misses out on the starting jersey and must wait until the next test to see if he can prove his worth under Gatland again.
Owen Williams has taken the inside centre spot and must look to help get the ball flowing to those around him. Steff Evans will look to boost Wales’ attacking hopes, alongside Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny in the back three.
Owen Watkin earns a spot on the bench, allowing Gatland to create three new caps if he chooses too. This shows the mid-World Cup cycle is a time to introduce future names.
In terms of experience, Alun Wyn Jones will captain the side as Wales look to prevent 13 losses in a row against Australia. That is a record neither AWJ or Gatland will want on their resume. And while they both had time to smile at yesterdays press conference (see main picture) whether those smiles remain past Saturday is up to this group of players.
Wales face Australia this Saturday, 5:15pm at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.
What Are the Keys to Wales Success
Quick ball…..With a back row not set out to directly hold up Australia at the breakdown, Wales will need Gareth Davies to deliver quick ball to the men outside of him. This could come down to the coaching game-plan and whether Warren Gatland wants his usual ”Warrenball” or if the coaches will follow up their expansive team selection with an wide open game-plan.
Keep the ball……Australia have experienced men in the positions it counts in. Will Genia, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale taking up the half back and full back positions. If Wales kick too much poor ball to this trio then they’ll have to expect it to come back with some force.
Australia have two massive centre’s to crash up front and make easy yards as well as an expansive running game that Beale showed glimpses of in his spell at Wasps.
Get a sizeable lead by 60 minutes……. Wales are notoriously slow finishers in test matches against the tougher nations. Australia enter this match on a run of 12 unbeaten games against the Welshmen. The Welsh bench is certainly lacking in depth, especially in the back row positions. So with a poor history of ending games you wouldn’t bet money on a solid enough last twenty minutes to only have a few points lead.
A sizeable lead would give the youngsters coming off the bench enough time to adapt and hopefully enough of a buffer for Wales to get over the line at the 13th hurdle.
Manage forward play…….Wales lack a big back row that is likely to slow breakdown play down. Missing key figures at the openside or off the bench could be crucial in how Australia get to attack against Wales.
Set plays will be massive with both props lacking game time in recent weeks. Lineout’s will be a key weapon for Gatland, Aaron Shingler is a strong option here and it’s expected he’ll be well used at the back of the lineout’s.
With Charteris out of the frame, Wales will need to retain a good amount of set piece ball in order to stand any chance against the Wallabies.
With those thoughts, Robert Rees will report on the outcome of the start of Wales’ Autumn Internationals campaign. Opening with Australia, followed by Georgia and then, the ultimate test – New Zealand.
“Main photo credit”
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