Here we go…!
Warren Gatland today announced the Wales team for Saturday’s huge match at Twickenham! No real surprises, but certainly what many will see as a welcome return to the international fold for Rhys Webb, who is amongst the replacements. A product of Bridgend, the guy’s a livewire and it was gut-wrenching to see him injured in the World Cup warm-up against Italy. He was riding a rich wave of form when he seriously injured his ankle, and Wales could do with his sniping runs and elusive footwork should he come off the bench this weekend.
Luke Charteris is back – also on the bench – with Bradley Davies deservedly retaining his starting berth. Both top quality locks, Charteris is as dynamic as Davies is powerful, and hopefully will make a real nuisance of himself in the lineout in the later stages of Saturday’s game.
It’s been strongly rumoured this week that Bradley Davies may be on his way back to Cardiff Arms Park for next season, with the Blues apparently trying to sign him on a National Dual Contract. I think he’s really improved as a player during his time at Wasps, and I feel his discipline has improved too. What’s more, this form has definitely translated onto the international stage. Davies is just the sort of signing the Blues need now: a real marquee player, a highly experienced international and enforcer around whom to reshape the squad.
Paul James is the other change on the bench for the Twickenham showdown, replacing the injured Gethin Jenkins. James is another big-game player and I must say I’m happy with his inclusion. He’s another who has undoubtedly benefitted from an extended spell in the Aviva Premiership, and could be a key inclusion to the match-day squad.
I must say, I’ve been impressed with the Wales replacements this Six Nations. We are so fortunate to now be in a position where virtually everyone on the bench this week could just as easily be starting this game, and our team would look equally as strong. I do still feel that Thomas Francis and Gareth Anscombe have more to prove on the international scene but, of course, that will only come with more game time and experience.
And games surely don’t get much bigger than England v Wales.
On a final note, I read a really good article by former All Black second row Ali Williams earlier on the BBC website, and I wanted to share it with you. It revolves around the Northern Hemisphere v Southern Hemisphere “divide”. (Am I becoming obsessed with this subject?!) It centres around the argument that the Six Nations is high-stakes rugby in which all the teams are afraid to express themselves. An interesting arguement, although who can forget the 2015 final day try-fest? Anyway, here it is:
Oh, and one more thing, S4C are showing a documentary on Jonah Lomu tonight at 9:30pm. I will certainly be tuning in as they pay tribute to an icon, and one of the game’s true legends.