Rugby

Wales’ best team for the rest of the Six Nations after what we’ve just seen – Wales Online


In the aftermath of Wales’ defeat at Twickenham, Warren Gatland outlined his message to the Welsh public.

It was a simple one. Have a little patience. Narrow defeats to Scotland and England have offered positives despite the results, with a youthful group of players showing signs of growth in trying circumstances.




Quite simply, Wales could have two wins at this stage, but Ireland will provide a different challenge to what Wales have faced so far. Scotland imploded in Cardiff, while England weren’t at the top of their game in London either.

Andy Farrell’s side in Dublin, though, will be a level up, as Gatland admitted himself. In that sense, it’s interesting to know what the Wales coach will do with selection.

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Any risky choice in picking the matchday 23 will be magnified at the Aviva Stadium and, for all the talk of trying to fast-track some of these young players, you have to be wary about exposing them too soon.

Then again, Wales are where they are, as Gatland says, and his mandate right now seems to be putting development at a slightly higher precedent than results.

You’d expect the backline to stay largely the same in Dublin, although Sam Costelow likely would come back in were he over his neck injury. It’s important to remember that Saturday was only Ioan Lloyd’s fourth cap and his first start at Test level – so talk from some Irish pundits that he’s not up to it at this level is a bit premature. You can read about that here.

Then again, the same pundit – former Ireland international Hannah Tyrell – has also written off Costelow as a Test player, despite the Scarlets playmaker only having played nine times on the international stage. It’s a little soon for snap judgement on either, but, while he let no one down, there were times when Lloyd struggled at Twickenham.

On one occasion, he was caught by Maro Itoje overplaying near his own line, while there was the odd hospital pass – as Gareth Thomas’ ribs will attest. In fairness, Lloyd was trying to do things without much of a platform, with some crossfield kicks from deep a little dicey, but part of the gameplan he was trying to play to.

Costelow, despite a risk-averse first half against Scotland, has a little more experience at Test level and, if fit, you’d expect him to come in, particularly as he’ll have done several reps with Nick Tompkins and George North last summer in the extended World Cup preparation.

In the pack, the front-row and back-row that started at Twickenham seems safe. Elliot Dee has been superb, while Keiron Assiratti did a good job at the scrum.

As for Alex Mann, Tommy Reffell and Aaron Wainwright, they played a huge part in Wales being in the fight for so long.

It’s the second-row where there is perhaps a decision to be made. Dafydd Jenkins as captain has been a standout in this tournament so far.

He leads by example, making sure he’s near the top of the charts in most metrics as he gets through an impressive amount of work. Adam Beard has proven a good foil so far, particularly in his marshalling of Wales’ attacking maul.

However, Wales are desperately short of powerful carriers. And having missed the Scotland game for personal reasons, Will Rowlands was back on the bench at Twickenham – but could he come in for the trip to Dublin?

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It would be harsh on Beard, particularly as he’s a player who tends to attract an unfair amount of criticism. Gatland is one of his staunchest defenders, but he’ll have to weigh up whether the need for an explosive carrier is greater than what Beard offers.

On the bench, there’s probably not going to be too much change either. If Leon Brown is fit, maybe he’d come back into contention of covering tight-head – although the fact Dillon Lewis was called up to the squad would suggest, even though Brown wasn’t released from Wales camp, that his shoulder knock could take a little bit of time to heal.

Gareth Davies might come back in, while maybe Tom Rogers and Joe Roberts could push their cases for a bench spot after Mason Grady’s cameo at Twickenham resulted in a yellow. However, you’d still back the Cardiff man to stay in the matchday squad.


Maybe the boldest call Gatland could make would be to throw Mackenzie Martin on the bench. It’s just over 80 days since the Cardiff back-row was playing against Swansea RFC at St Helen’s, but he’s the type of physical carrier who Wales desperately need.

It’s unclear how the Ely boy has been going in camp so far, but even in the warm-ups at Twickenham, his size stood out. He’s still a bit raw, but a cameo off the bench might just be a way for Gatland to fast-track.


Those at the Arms Park speak highly of Martin, saying he’s exactly what Wales need. Dublin probably isn’t the ideal place to take the first step on this front, but then again, why wait?

Wales: Cameron Winnett; Josh Adams, George North, Nick Tompkins, Rio Dyer; Sam Costelow, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee, Keiron Assiratti, Dafydd Jenkins, Will Rowlands, Alex Mann, Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Corey Domachowski, Leon Brown, Adam Beard, Mackenzie Martin, Gareth Davies, Ioan Lloyd, Mason Grady.



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Ellis Wilder

Hey there! My name is Ellis Wilder, and I'm a student at the University of Calgary. When I'm not hitting the books, you can usually find me writing articles for sports and travel blogs. I've always had a passion for exploring new places and experiencing different cultures, so I love sharing my travel stories with others. Whether I'm hiking in the Rocky Mountains or exploring a new city, I always try to capture the essence of the places I visit in my writing. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them!

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