Worrying news from the Wales camp this week, as both Luke Charteris and Jonathan Davies will sit out games for their French club teams this weekend, following injuries obtained in the game against Scotland. Charteris has firmly established himself as first choice to partner Alyn Wyn Jones in Wales’ engine room, and rightly so in my opinion – his height in the line out and his disruptive work in the maul are both invaluable. His tackle-rate, and general work-rate, are massive too.
Similarly, Jonathan Davies has been crucial to Wales for his incredible footballing skills and his powerful defence. Intersetingly, with both players currently plying their trade across the English channel, the inclusion of both for the France game could have given Wales the edge thanks to their familiarity of the French players, teams and systems. Hopefully they will feature in that fixture.
On a related note, Leigh Halfpenny attended a training session with Wales this week in order to share a little insight of the French teams, possible tactics, and potential targets. He will definitely not feature in this Six Nations, but I wish him a speedy recovery, and hope that he will be on the aeroplane to New Zealand for the summer tour.
On the domestic front, Ospreys put on a powerful second half display to beat Edinburgh in Swansea last night. Dan Lydiate was yellow carded for a reckless tackle, which I fear may jeapordise his potential starting berth against the French. There has been a lot of talk about Wales’ back row options over the last few weeks, much of it accusing the Warburton/Tipuric/Faletau combination of misfiring. I love this combination, I think the balance is perfect, and believe Gatland should retain all three for next Friday’s game. They need more time to settle as a unit. I’m also a huge fan of Lydiate coming off the bench, tightening defence to see out the game.
Elsewhere, Treviso doubled their win count for this season at home against the Dragons – their second Pro12 win in as many weeks against Welsh opposition. I was devastated last week when Blues lost out in Italy, and I’m disappointed also for the Dragons.
I will say, however, despite their terrible form this term, Treviso are not a bad team. They appointed a new head coach this week, and with some further shrewd signings I’m sure they will be more competitive next season. I always believe we need every team to be competitive in order to advance the game, and for the Pro12 product to improve.
Cardiff Blues face Leinster at home this afternoon, and there’s a welcome return for several international players. This is a must win game now for Blues, as we enter the final third of the season. I still believe we can finish in the top six. Come on Blues!