I’m really happy with the Wales team that Warren Gatland has announced today for the game in Dublin this weekend. These warm up games may not count for a lot, but speaking to other fans I get the feeling we need a huge performance, if not a victory, to underline the strengths of our talented pool of players and lay down a marker of intent for the World Cup. Indeed, victory over this current Ireland team on their home turf would be a huge confidence boost.
Alun Wyn Jones is deservedly one of the first names on the team sheet, and I feel his imposing presence will have a massive impact on the game, especially when our defence is being tested. He is captain this week in the absence of Sam Warburton, and will lead a largely experienced pack. Tomas Francis, the front-row debutant, needs a massive game – I haven’t seen much of the Aviva Premiership in the last year, but given Exeter’s ascendency in recent seasons, I’m expecting him to compete fiercely at scrum time and demonstrate his dynamism around the park.
Justin Tipuric’s inclusion – albeit at Warburton’s expense – offers us that little extra running flare and exceptional support play. Plus, of course, this weekend will see the long awaited return of George North. This is a huge game for him! Jonah Lomu has reportedly said that North is carrying ‘the weight of the nation’, and I’m sure he will be relieved to get some game time under his belt. Hopefully we will see him return to his incredible international form of the 2012-13 season.
Just found out Gareth Anscombe has picked up an ankle injury in training, and is therefore now rumoured to be a doubt to make the World Cup squad.
I thought he made a really positive impact when he came off the bench in the warm-up game against Ireland. Along with the introduction of Lloyd Williams, he really helped increase the tempo of the game when we desperately needed it. I’m a big fan of James Hook, but I felt he wasn’t at his best that day – in itself a real shame, as many media outlets are suggesting this could be one of his last chances to impress the selectors, especially in the fly-half position.
Wales fielded a less experienced team for that game on August 8th and, now that Hook has been omitted from the RWC training squad, I’ve been really looking forward to see what Anscombe is capable of when lining up alongside our first choice backs and a more experienced forward pack. In joining Cardiff Blues from Waikato Chiefs, and linking up with Wales in the process, he has made a massive commitment on his playing future too, and to see him miss out on the biggest stage due to injury would be a real shame. Apparently he is being assessed at present; I’m sure the extent of his injury will become apparent later in the week.
In the meantime, I look forward to hearing Warren Gatland’s team choice for Wales’ second world cup warm-up match – the reverse fixture, against Ireland, in Dublin.
Thanks for dropping by!
I’m Paul, a massive fan of Welsh rugby! As the Rugby World Cup is fast approaching, I’ve decided to start a blog to keep up to date with all the breaking news and talking points which the next two months will bring, and hopefully get to hear from rugby fans around the globe!
Rugby World Cup 2015 promises to be the biggest showpiece event rugby union has so far staged, and I’m counting the minutes until the opening ceremony! Here’s hoping Wales have a fantastic tournament, and hopefully get even further than in 2011! Whatever happens, I’ll be keeping track of all the drama here on my new blog, so please feel free to get in touch with views and opinions!