Warren Gatland has named his matchday 23 to face Australia this Saturday, Robert Rees has the latest from the Wales squad announcement and takes a look at how they’ll go out to play against the Wallabies.
Wales squad announcement
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) 8 November 2018
Surprise inclusions from Gatland
Despite having an excellent game last week Dillon Lewis will slide onto the bench as Tomas Francis returns to the squad. Lewis’ strong scrummaging and work rate around the park have seemingly been in vain as Gatland plucks with experience once again.
Adam Beard partners Alun-Wyn Jones in the boiler house. A powerful carrier of the ball and a potent weapon in and around the set piece he can cause some damage to the Australian pack. It remains somewhat surprising that Hill would be dropped after a hell of a game last week. Even more so baffling when you consider Hill and Jones being the strongest second row partnership.
The other change in the starting XV is on the wing. Fans wouldn’t have been surprised to see Luke Morgan drop down, but would have been a bit shocked to have seen Adams’ name above Liam Williams’. The Worcester wing hasn’t been on scintillating form for Worcester this season compared to Williams at Saracens, but Gatland obviously feels Adams will do the job following a successful summer tour.
One thing Wales need to do is include him more than they did Morgan.
Ellis Jenkins returns from injury to take a place on the bench along with Dan Biggar who returns to the squad from his club.
Gatland rewarding summer tour success
The inclusion of Beard and Adams may come as a slight surprise, but for Warren Gatland it was all about rewarding players who had a good summer tour as well as gaining continuity.
“With selection we wanted some continuity and to be consistent but also mindful there are a number of players who did really well for us in the summer and they need to be rewarded and have their opportunity.
“Adam (Beard) impressed in the summer as did Josh (Adams) and they deserve the chance to start.”
Wales must kick less
If Wales are to conquer their hoodoo with Australia they’ll have to retain a lot more possession than they did against the Scots. Kicking the ball away 41 times against Scotland didn’t hurt them, it will against the Aussies.
The Wales squad announcement has hints that a kicking game will remain intact with Biggar on the bench a real good player when it comes to kick N’ chases. Gareth Anscombe must focus more on delivering the ball out wide and distribute it into the midfield more as when he did that last week Wales looked threatening.
Keeping the ball tight could well be a factor in reducing kicks against an Australia team packed with exciting backs.
Set piece grind crucial
Last week Wales started relatively slowly at the scrums, but ended up well on top. With the pack largely the same and only one change in the front row Wales should be able to continue that strong form through. Australia have a formidable pack, but not an unbeatable one.
Scott Sio is an ever present figure at the loosehead and their back row is arguably one of the best if not the best in world rugby. Combatting this will be a great battle all game and could well decide who wins.
Carry on carrying
Despite sounding like a comedy film from the 1970s this is in fact the best thing Wales did against the Scots and they must retain that going forward. Having the entire pack carrying extremely well around the breakdown and in the loose is going to be key if they want to compete at the World Cup.
Some mammoth efforts were exuded last week and the same must happen again. Australia will want to get the ball out wide as quickly as possible with some potent try scoring threats in their backline. Wales will serve better by going through their methodical grunt.
They have to be aggressive, but they have to choose their moments. Distribution will be key from the half backs in determining the gameplan and how well it works.
— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) 8 November 2018
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