Wales World Cup Squad: Five things we have learned

Following on from Warren Gatland’s final Wales World Cup squad announcement Robert Rees looks at five key components as they head to Japan.

Tighthead props need to stay fit

Having only selected five props – Three looseheads and two tighteads – Warren Gatland will be praying that both Dillon Lewis and Tomas Francis remain fit.

Wales World Cup squad

World Rugby specifies you must have two of each prop in your matchday 23 and so if either of the aforementioned go down it could spell disaster for Wales.

Wyn Jones is covering as third choice tighthead if required but as the experiment showed with Rhodri Jones, it doesn’t always work when you take a prop off their side.

Stacked back-row ready for rotation

Naming six men in the back-row is always going to mean someone misses out on meaningful game time, just like Dominic Day suffered as a consequence of five locks in 2015.

With Cory Hill out until game day three Aaron Shingler will be lock cover for a few weeks.

Facing Australia in game day two will likely mean Gatland goes full strength against Georgia in their opening game to ensure full momentum is carried through.

James Davies will be quality cover for Justin Tipuric and expect to see them rotate against the tier two nations.

Wainwright will undoubtedly go well to seal the starting jersey as Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty battle over the eight shirt.

Wales playing mobile game plan

The inclusion of young props Dillon Lewis, Rhys Carre and Wyn Jones shows that Gatland has an eye on a more expansive and all-round game plan.

Wales have started to bring around a style where the forwards lead with quick carries in the tight and are equally adapted to open play.

Rob Evans can feel himself unlucky for missing out on this, Carre taking his spot in the Wales World Cup squad.

The back row are also built to carry well and attack the fringes and the Welsh backline will attempt to go around as well as over opponents.

Experience not essential

Warren Gatland has only included 13 players with World Cup experience, playing with plenty of youth.

Despite not owning vast amounts of experience Wales will go to Japan with little fear or knowledge of losing test matches and few memories of a bad World Cup run.

Only eight players have over 50 caps and four have single digit figures.

That will bode well when it comes to taking on the likes of Australia, many of whom defeated the Aussies last autumn in Cardiff.

CARDIFF, WALES – AUGUST 17: Wales Alun Wyn Jones during the pre match warm up during the Under Armour Summer Series match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ian Cook – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Aaron Wainwright set to star

Just two years after his competitive debut for the Dragons after growing up around football Aaron Wainwright finds himself at a Rugby World Cup.

The Whitehead RFC product, who has 11 caps to his name, has come on leaps and bounds since bursting on to the international scene.

The loss of Taulupe Faletau has seen Ross Moriarty move from blindside to eight and thus open up a gap for his Dragons teammate.

With Josh Navidi returning from an elbow injury Wales will definitely see a lot of Wainwright in this World Cup, even as a starter.

Find out what Ryan Jones had to say about the flanker here.

 

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