After an exhilarating and amazing performance versus Scotland, Wales now look ahead to England.
Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones said before the tournament that Wales would change their game to cater the threat of each individual opponent. Will the back three change from the inexperienced wingers and Halfpenny who the media called to be dropped prior to his 24 point haul, due to his lack of attacking threat.
The back three against Scotland fit, to a certain extent with the Welsh DNA. So should they change?
The sublime performance in the back three has been noted by many. Leigh Halfpenny a conservative and defensive fullback picked up 2 tries, his first since 2013 in the Welsh jersey. These tries ended his 1,827-day streak without a try for Wales.
On the one wing Steff Evans, who was found out in the autumn, looked a genuine threat. The Scarlets man looked dangerous in attack and less frail in defence than he did versus Australia. Bagging himself a try many doubt how the young flyer could be dropped by Gatland.
Finally on the other wing stood the top try scorer in the Aviva Premiership, Josh Adams. Although he didn’t score he never looked out of place in the fast-paced, expansive and exciting way Wales played.
With a tough England side to come many wonder how the young wingers will fare. Before the game, many were worried due to the absence of Liam Williams and George North. Both of these will take a full part in training this week and it’s an idea that they should start versus the Red Rose.
With an amazing turn of pace and superb footwork, the ex-Scarlets man was expected to be sorely missed by the Welsh. As the starting Lions fullback, he has known form at international and high levels, unlike the wingers who faced Scotland. Playing at Saracens now he has an in-depth knowledge of how lots of the English team play. This also means he plays against many of the other Englishmen often and knows how to stop the threat they possess. Also, as an ex-Scarlet, he knows how to play with lots of the backline and will fit in very well and add an extra threat to the gameplan. Wales/Scarlets gameplan.
A big ball carrier and a surprising amount of pace for his size. The 6ft 4 ½ tall man, can make sizable holes in a defence and his speed means he can carry this on to the try line. Yet North has barely played this season due to injury. So has little form and game time at the moment, unlike those he would replace. He did score on his return in the Anglo-Welsh versus Harlequins and played the full 80. If he is fit and firing many will want him to start as his explosive running could be what Wales need in what will be a very tough match.
The Dragons man had an excellent autumn where he proved he was a top international winger. Given the fact he was fit for the match versus Scotland people where surprised he wasn’t selected. However, Amos has played very little rugby after suffering an ankle injury on boxing day. If he proves himself in training this week Gatland may choose Amos. Yet it is likely that Gatland would prefer to reward his current wingers or go for the more experienced North or Williams.
I expect Gatland will want to reward Adams and Evans. However, the way Wales want to tailor their gameplan to each team I believe Gatland will pick Williams to start alongside either North or Evans. The decision between those two will come down to training. As well as how Gatland and his coaching staff want to stop the dazzling stars on the wing for Eddie Jones’ side.
Author: Ollie Evans
I’m from South Wales and have grown up with rugby all around me and the Millenium Stadium on my doorstep. A massive fan of all things rugby, but never been particularly good despite having played since I was 6.