It may come to a surprise to some but Wales have a number of international material fly-half’s to choose.
Whether that be from the Welsh regions or even a few players from the Aviva Premiership. Players such as Dan Biggar, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Patchell, Rhys Priestland, Owen Williams, Jared Evans, Dan Jones and Sam Davies.
Dan Biggar controversially some may say at the time of writing this forces his back into the Welsh starting line-up against France as many fans and pundits are looking for a new option. Something that isn’t controversial is that Dan Biggar has been a servant to Wales since he came into a starting position in 2013. Replacing an inconsistent nervous looking Rhys Priestland.
He’s been a crucial part of some of Wales’ momentous victories over the last few years. No more so than his performance in the 2015 World Cup against England where he place kicked England out of contention. He has immense international attributes, whether that be his placekicking, defence, high ball situations or kicking out of hand. However many have been calling for younger more attacking fly-half’s that suite the new, expansive style of play Wales have been trying to adopt since their 2016 tour down in New Zealand.
Biggar looks out of place in this new style of play, surrounded by Scarlets players. It seems to be the main reason Biggar is picked is that of his experience and he’s part of Gatland’s leadership group. A group which consists of; Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Cory Hill, Taulupe Falatau, Justin Tipuric and Scot Williams.
Gareth Anscombe appears to be second choice fly-half at this moment in time. New Zealand born Anscombe has taken a few years to settle into applying his trade in Wales and is in a rich vein of form with the Cardiff Blues. A versatile player Anscombe can play fly-half and fullback. Anscombe is the kind of player who can really open up a game in this new look Wales team. Perhaps his biggest critique would be his defensive capabilities.
Rhys Patchell is probably the most all rounded fly-half in Wales and is unlucky to have been dropped after his underwhelming performance against England. Some have argued he should be starting because of his connections and understanding of how his fellow Scarlets play the game. He also has the natural ability to play very flat to the line. This is a skill required in the new Welsh setup that can’t be taken for granted.
Owen Williams has all the attributes to play for Wales and is unlucky not to get a cap in this year’s Six Nations. Particularly after impressing in November. However, as Gatland alluded to he doesn’t want to pick players who play outside of Wales.
Rhys Priestland is currently injured but has hit the best form of his career since leaving Wales but it’s probably too little too late for Priestland. However, with his Test experience, he cannot be ruled out in the future.
Jarrod Evans may be an unknown name to the casual fan, but the 21-year-old has looked really exciting in the Pro14 with Cardiff Blues and touted by 100 capped wales flanker Martin Williams as the best-attacking fly-half in Europe. Perhaps he is one for the future.
Dan Jones is another young fly-half for the future and is impressing at the Scarlets. He seems comfortable at the professional level and has the composure a good fly-half needs. This was highlighted in Scarlets famous victory over Toulon in the European Cup group stages where he kicked the penalties that eventually won the game. Again Dan Jones is probably one for the future at 21 years old.
Finally, Sam Davies who last year was Wales’ number two has slipped down the ranks as the youngster has lost his form of the last couple years and is playing in a lacklustre Ospreys team that is underperforming.
Author: Finn Thomas
I am Finn from Suffolk, England and I’m totally obsessed with sport. The passion and intensity of rugby is completely captivating. There is nothing like watching young players breaking through at their regions or clubs then seeing them tear it up at international level.
I have a rugby encyclopaedic knowledge and love discussing/arguments with people over games, players and tactics.
Although I was born and raised in England my Welsh roots from my father’s side have got me supporting Wales.