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Wales' Summer Tour of New Zealand

dullonien

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Wall the domestic season is almost at the end. Thought it was about time we started looking ahead to the test against South Africa and then the two test series in NZ.

Which players have impressed lately? Are there any that will be left at home in order to rest before a gruelling season leading up to the WC?

Gatland has already hinted that he'll be taking a small squad of 28-30 with him, so wanna start debating who that'll be?

Here's who I think Gatland should take:

Front row: Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Eifion-Lewis Roberts, Rhys Gill, Mathew Rees, Ken Owens.
Second row: Bradley Davies, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Ian Evans.
Backrow: Ryan Jones, Sam Warberton, Jon Thomas, Dafydd Jones, Andy Powell, Rob McCusker?

Halfbacks: Mike Phillips, Richie Rees, Stephen Jones, Dan Biggar, Jason Tovey.
Centres: James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Jon Davies, Andrew Bishop/Tom Shanklin.
Back three: Lee Byrne, Gareth Owen/Daniel Evans, Shane Williams, Tom Prydie, Chris Chekaj/Tom James.

So, the main ommision is Martyn Williams, and that's because I think he needs the summer off, so we can keep him fit and firing for the WC. Warberton and Dafydd Jones (if back) are fully able to fill his shoes and if anything are better options against the All Blacks, where power is needed imo.

Andy Powell is lucky that there are no other options at 8 to back-up Ryan Jones at the moment. Delve has sealed his fate for the time being with his move to Austrailia. In the second row, Ian Evans get's in on potential and his massive lineout ability.

In the backs, maybe a third scrum half would be needed, in which case I'd probably go for Peel, although on current form Tavis Knoyle is hot on his heels. At 10, we may see one of Tovey and Biggar, which would be a tight call imo.

Centres, maybe Bishop and Shanklin can go, but it's certainly an area Gatland can cut down on numbers if he wishes. Bishop would be my pick of the two if only one goes. There is talk that Hook requires surgery in the summer. If that's the case, he'd be a big loss imo.

Back three is probably our problem area. Gareth owen goes, because he's a better option at fullback than Hook. Although Tovey could be used as cover. We are severely stretched on the wing. I would have rested Shane Williams if I could, but he's needed with Halfpenny ruled out (requiring surgery) and Mark Jones and Aled Brew now ruled out. Tom James might be very lucky that we're despirate for some kind of experience there. Will Harries and Fenby have done well, but both aren't up to the task at international yet (not that James has either!). Big ask for Prydie to face NZ aswell!

Out of that lot, this would be my 22:

01 Gethin Jenkins
02 Mathew Rees
03 Adam Jones
04 Bradley Davies
05 Alun-Wyn Jones
06 Dafydd Jones
07 Sam Warberton
08 Ryan Jones

09 Mike Phillips
10 Stephen Jones
11 Shane Williams
12 Jamie Roberts
13 James Hook
14 Tom Prydie
15 Lee Byrne

16 Eifion-Lewis Roberts
17 Ken Owens
18 Luke Charteris/Ian Evans (if regains form)
19 Jon Thomas
20 Richie Rees
21 Jason Tovey
22 Andrew Bishop
 
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TRF_Cymro

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I don't think there will be any shock selections but I do see most of the 6 Nations squad being retained.

Front row: Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Eifion-Lewis Roberts, Craig Mitchell / Hugh Gustafson, Mathew Rees, Gareth Williams, Ken Owens.
Second Row: Bradley Davies, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Ian Evans.
Backrow: Ryan Jones, Sam Warburton, Jon Thomas, Martyn Williams, Dan Lydiate, Andy Powell, Joe Bearman / Gareth Delve

Halfbacks: Mike Phillips, Dwayne Peel / Richie Rees / Wayne Evans (3 From Them), Stephen Jones, Ceri Sweeney, Jason Tovey.
Centres: James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Andrew Bishop, Tom Shanklin, Jon Davies.
Back three: Lee Byrne, Will Harries, Shane Williams, Tom Prydie, Chris Czekaj
 
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dullonien

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Chris Czekaj's return to form is very timely. he's got a good chance of getting into the squad and starting imo. He's not gonna set the world alight, but he's an extremely solid player in every aspect of his game, and his offloading game has been good of late. It's taken him a while to get over that horific injury he sustained in Aus, and is now playing better than ever.

Interesting call on Sweeney Cymro. He's been playing very well for the Blues. But I'd still give Biggar his chance. He's still got alot to learn, highlighted against Leinster last night, throwing an intercept. But he's also playing some very good stuff imo, and should be the player to go, being just 20. Sweeney's had his chances, and a don't see the point recalling him when there's two youngsters in Tovey and Biggar ready to step up.

Wayene Evans could go, as could Martyn Thomas from the Dragons. Both playing well.

I'm affraid Dan Lydiate is out of the tour. Pitty, as he was coming along nicely.

You're probably right about taking three hookers. Hope Gareth Williams get's selected in front of Bennett, although I'm not holding too much hope.

As for backrow. Bearman is a good call. he's a great player and would fill the gap we have at 8. Delve won't be available for most of next season, so can't see him ever being considered (I wouldn't if I were Gatland). Surely Dafydd Jones is due to return? Only 2 games left for the Scarlets though, so maybe he won't be back in time. Pitty, as he could be a big player for Wales next year and in the World Cup. Exactly the kinda player we need, a grafter who does allot of carrying.
 

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When's Mark Jones back from injury/could he be a possibility for a back-threeer?


EDIT: Just found that he's out for the season, so even if he was fit, lack of game time would mean he wouldn't be selected
 

dullonien

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Mark Jones is in serious doubt of never playing again. He's said that it's touch and go at the moment/ He's always had problems with his knees and has come back twice from career threatening knee injuries, but this might be one to many, kinda like it was for Rhys Williams.
 
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dullonien

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Just watching the Dragons match. I'd be very tempted to take Gustafson instead of Gill if I were Gatland. His scrummaging isn't great (although ref got the yellow card wrong in this game), but the rest of his game is very good. He's already shown in this game some of his great running and offloading abilities. Just remembering the Dragons v Ospreys game where he sent Mike Phillips flying with one of his charges, no mean feat.

Will Harries is also havign a great match. He is Welsh isn't he? Just taken it for granted, but not atall sure tbh. Fussell is also playing well, so there's two wingers available. Wayne Evans pushing his case aswell.
 

TRF_Cymro

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Harries is Welsh ... signed him from Northampton.
 

dullonien

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Just scored another try. Skinned one player on the outside, then a great hand-off to finish. he should certainly go on the tour.

Edit: scratch that. Make that two more tries. That's his hatrick tonight.
 
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DuncTheDoodle

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Front row: Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Paul James, Huw Guftaffson, Mathew Rees, Gareth Williams, Ken Owens.
Second Row: Bradley Davies, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Ian Gough.
Backrow: Ryan Jones, Sam Warburton, Jonathan Thomas, Daffydd Jones, Joe Bearman, Rob McCusker.

Halfbacks: Mike Phillips, Richie Rees, Dwayne Peel/Wayne Evans, Stephen Jones, Jason Tovey.
Centres: James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Andrew Bishop, Jon Davies.
Back three: Lee Byrne, Will Harries, Shane Williams, Tom Prydie, Leigh Halfpenny, Aled Brew/Scrabble

Guftafson is a fantastic carrier and deserves a chance, and time with McBride, Gatland, ect will make him a better scrummager. On the bench against SA would be my suggestion, he can come on for 10 minutes and see how he does, and if he goes alright, then he can stay for the NZ games. Hibbard should be in, but his injury forces me to go with Williams, despite the obvious lineout weakness seeing as Bennett's form is attrochious.

Ian Evans could go, but I'd rather have him on standby, as Gough is playing very well (When you look beyond his two yellow cards in three days)

McCusker is only on the plane because Powell should stay banned for a little longer. I agree Martyn should be rested, as well. Bearman is the back-up 8, as he recovered form quickly with his previous injury, so I don't see why he can't do it again now.

I keep hearing Peel is in horrible form, and so Evans being in fantastic form, he can go unless I'm hearing the wrong things. I feel like I shouldn't be leaving Biggar out, but I am, if only to bring him back down to Earth so he loses some of the confidence and is more level-headed next season.

Centres pick themselves, although I was tempted to include Ashley Smith.

Byrne and Shane are obvious, and Harries just has to go after the performances he's put in. Halfpenny says that he wants to go and that the surgery shouldn't be too bad, and could get it done in his weeks off and just miss a bit of the pre-season. Prydie looked fine against Italy, although I would be hesitant to start him against the All Blacks. Brew may recover, so if so he'll be in. If not, Chris Whatshisname looks good, and I could see him being recalled.
 

TRF_Cymro

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If you watched the Blues the other night Gareth Williams throwing was fine, I still go back to my point I have raised in the past. Is McBryde good enough as Wales forward coach? And when you watch how poorly the Ospreys lineout is functioning then should the Welsh lineout captain be from the Ospreys?

Id rather take Josh Turnbull over Rob McCusker, purely for the fact he has played more.

What concerns me is the lack of strength in depth at the moment for flankers in Wales.
 

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If you watched the Blues the other night Gareth Williams throwing was fine, I still go back to my point I have raised in the past. Is McBryde good enough as Wales forward coach? And when you watch how poorly the Ospreys lineout is functioning then should the Welsh lineout captain be from the Ospreys?

Id rather take Josh Turnbull over Rob McCusker, purely for the fact he has played more

What concerns me is the lack of strength in depth at the moment for flankers in Wales.


simple bring back andy powell play him at 6 ..the man is for all his flaws a tough cookie that trys his best ..
 

dullonien

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I'm a big fan of both Turnbull and McCusker. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Turnbull is a great ball carrier and get's through lots of work, but he's a little hot headed. I remember him getting yellow or even red carded within minutes of him entering the field in one game earier this season. McCusker's main strength is his pace and handling skills, but is very new to regional rugby. Both are good prospects, so I'd take one of them if I were Gatland (and I'd take either above Powell who needs to prove he deserves his spot).
 

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simple bring back andy powell play him at 6 ..the man is for all his flaws a tough cookie that trys his best ..

serious team morale points go to him too

You have to watch living with the lions 2009. He was the main man at building cohesion between the players off the pitch
 

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I were Gatland (and I'd take either above Powell who needs to prove he deserves his spot).


the man drove down a motorway in a stolen golf buggy....of course he deserves his place:p
 
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TRF C A Iversen

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Well, I'll be the first New Zealander to join the discussion. I seriously think it's a shame that tours aren't what they used to be, because I think if Wales played one or maybe two of our NPC sides, that'd really get them the ideal preparation going into the tests. As it is I think Wales have the personnel to be a reasonable threat if their A game actually turns up. Problem is as I just said preparation isn't as good without a warm up match and without that kind of tour I'd say Wales have a good show of pushing New Zealand at moments, but a slim chance of actually winning.

Working in Wales favour however is the simple fact that this is a very average year for New Zealand Rugby. Even our "superstars" Carter and McCaw aren't exactly showing amazing form. I'd say we have to hope that some of our younger players step-up their game and burst onto the scene as a freak talent in the way Jeff Wilson, Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen did. Sadly Zac Guildford is good, but not that good.
 

dullonien

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Agree with you there C A Inversen. I think Gatland was hoping for a couple of warm-up matches. I know there was a match against the Maoris planned, not sure which side decided against it. Wales have the ability to sneak a victory in one of the matches, but it's very unlikely to happen. Playing a severely weakened SA before touring will help, because we should win that game, giving us some confidence. On the plus side, many of our star players are hitting some of their best form in a couple of seasons. The likes of Gethin Jenkins, Mat Rees, Bradley Davies, Sam Warberton, Mike Phillips, James Hook and Jamie Roberts really are looking impressive for their regions at the moment. There's a few youngsters really pushing for places so competition should be good within the squad.

However, NZ in NZ is the toughest test there is. We rarely push the All Blacks close in the Millenium stadium, so I can't see us winning over there. There will be very little pressure on us though. So if we can go out with a nothing to loose attitude (everything to gain), we could pose problems. And if Marshall is right about NZ probably experimenting a little to find adequate cover for McCaw, Carter etc. before the WC, then our chances rise again.

What Wales don't need to do though is take a beating, and loose by 30+. If the games remain close, like they did in SA a couple of years ago, we'll be able to take something from the trip. If we win a game, the boost that could give us is almost immesurable imo. Could really give us the belief to do something special in the WC.
 

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Guess we have to expect amazing matches

what I like in Wales is their high-temp and fire rugby

Interesting to watch
 

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Just on an interesting point about finding cover for Carter, is anyone with me that both Delany and Donald seem not to have international class. I'd say New Zealand's only real cover for Carter is playing for the Harlequins in the Guiness Premiership...

As for the match itself I can see New Zealand winning but do think we'd be better off giving a few younger players a run as Iverson said. I also don't think Guildford is comparable to Cullen, Wilson or Lomu and think the fact he's young and scores many (easy finishing) tries gives NZ too much false hope in him to be the next great wing. I'd put him behind the winging pecking order of Sivivatu, Cory Jane, Hosea Gear, Lelia Masaga and Rokocoko (people slag off Roks but he's finding form again and is currently leading the Super 14 in terms of tries). I'd like after the World Cup to have players such as Israel Dagg, Robbie Robinson, Aaron Cruden and Zac Guildford to get game time in the black jersey but untill then I'd like to keep our key players in form and maybe test out 1 of the new players at a time as apposed to throwing them all in the deep end (we found out from both the Barbarian and Italian game that dosen't work as it only takes one player to not perform up to standard to make them all look bad. One player I'd think of adding to the games against Wales is the likes of Victor Vito on the bench to cover 6 and 8. My squad for the Wales test.

1. Tony Woodcock
2. Kevin Mealamu
3. Owan Franks
4. Brad Thorn
5. Chris Jack (who else with Ali and Donnelly injured and Isaac Ross not even starting for the Crusaders)
6. Jerome Kaino
7. Richie McCaw
8. Rodney So'oialo (has had a good season so far and finding form which would be a good time to test him again at this level. Kieren Ried is proven to be a decent #8)
9. Alby Mathewson (best current half back in NZ in my opinion, needs to be given a good chance).
10. Daniel Carter
11. Sitivini Sivivatu
12. Ma'a Nonu
13. Conrad Smith
14. Joe Rokocoko (as I said it'd be a good test of form and he's fixed his problem with the high ball so he's not a risk).
15. Mils Muiliena

16. Andrew Hore (Had a good season but Mealamu seems to have a very slight edge)
17. Neemia Tialata (Average season but can cover both sides of the scrum)
18. Victor Vito (give him a shot)
19. Jimmie Cowan (Could start but Mathewson deserves a starting spot on form)
20. Mike Delany (Donald isn't the starting 10 for the Chiefs and Delany has been...all right though he is injured at the moment)
21. Luke McAlister
22. Cory Jane (the only reason he isn't starting is to give Rokocoko a test and he can cover fullback which is where I see him in the future)

Other players for squad:
R. WyattCrockett (Playing well for Crusaders)
R. Sam Whitelock (One of the few locking options really)
R. Adam Thompson (Not fireing but playing fairly well, wouldn't mind seeing Scott Waldrum in there instead)
R. Piri Weepu (Not playing particuly well but Andy Ellis and Brendon Leonard I think are usless. Ellis isn't starting for Crusaders atm and Leonard seems to have moments of madness too often. Keates is an option)
R. Isaia Toeava/Aaron Cruden
R. Hosea Gear (Because he deserves a decent shot).
 

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I've just heard that Delany has just been ruled out of all rugby for 6 months with a fractured shoulder. This is unfortunate (for AB fans) as he has been in great form for the last few weeks, and looked like he had nailed down the position as carters backup. This leaves a three way battle between MacAlister, Steven Brett, and Steven Donald to backup Carter - I really hope Carter avoids getting injured!
 

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