Rugby Union

Warren Gatland to take bold Wales squad to Six Nations

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Warren Gatland has made some bold calls with his team selection against Ireland in Wales' Six Nations opener this weekend.

The inclusion of regular starters Samson Lee, Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Jamie Roberts and Toby Faletau will cause no surprises.

Likewise, Gatland's decision to retain the half-back partnership of Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar he took to the World Cup is an expected one.


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Welsh fans will also be grateful to see Jonathan Davies return to the starting line following a long lay-off due to injury.

Some picks, however, are likely to raise a few eyebrows.

Rob Evans

The young Scarlets loose-head has displaced elder statesman Gethin Jenkins in reward for an impressive season. However, this change-up is arguably down to Jenkins' limited game time with Cardiff as much as Evans' good form.

Sam Warburton

The Welsh captain has seen very little action in the Pro 12 this season due to injury problems. Despite only playing four games this season, Warburton has been named on the blindside with in-form rival Justin Tipuric selected on the openside.

Tom James

The Blues wing will be ecstatic to finally make a well-deserved return to the international team. James has been one of his side's most potent attacking players this season and his consistent form more than justifies his selection.

Gareth Anscombe

The selection of Anscombe, who has only recently returned from injury, seems very much out of left field.

Anscombe did play at fullback during the World Cup when injuries left Wales light at the back, but he has since been operating at fly-half during his few appearances for the Blues.

Gatland’s reasoning is understandable to an extent. Ireland play a very aggressive kicking game, and Anscombe is his most proficient kicker ahead of Liam Williams and Matthew Morgan. However, his selection means there will be no lightning-quick counter attacks from deep.

The Bench

A solid line-up including Jenkins, Owens and Francis will make for adequate cover.

Bradley Davies’ selection may seem harsh on an in-form Dominic Day considering the former has endured so many injury troubles.

Dan Lydiate will bring a solid presence at the back but not the attacking benefits and back five cover Josh Turnbull or James King would offer.

Lloyd Williams has been in excellent form for the Blues and will be nipping at Gareth Davies’ heels for the nine shirt.

However, the selection of Rhys Priestland and Alex Cuthbert is worrying.

Priestland has seen virtually no game time at Bath and can only provide competent cover at fly-half and full-back at a stretch, raising doubts about his usefulness on the international stage.

In the same vein, while Cuthbert has improved since his atrocious showing at the World Cup, he is still getting caught out in defence and butchering try-scoring opportunities.

What's more, he can only cover wing, meaning either George North, Anscombe or Priestland will have to cover center should Roberts or Davies succumb to injury.


Gatland clearly wants to put pressure on Ireland’s maul, set piece and breakdown while countering their aggressive kicking strategy. However, should this strategy fail, there is not a great deal of cover to adopt a secondary plan.

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Rugby Union
Wales Rugby
Six Nations

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