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Wales under Pivac

dullonien

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With Wales heading into a new era under Pivac after 11 years with Gatland at the helm, it's a nervous but exciting time to be a supporter with the promise of a more expansive gameplan.

I thought I'd have a look at the player pool available to Pivac and try to assess where it's lacking and how Pivac will see things differently to Gats.

I've colour coded it in the following way:
Purple = world class (imo)
Black = proven international quality.
Red = need to prove themselves
Blue = lacking quality (imo)

Loosehead Prop

Rob Evans
- our best prop imo. Solid at the set-piece + multi faceted in the loose.
Nicky Smith - still needs to prove himself at the set-piece.
Rhys Carre - another who needs to prove himself in the set-piece.
Wyn Jones - I think he lacks a point of difference. He's solid enough, but in comparison to most other top props, he's neither dynamic enough nor physical enough to stand-out.
Rhodri Jones - Messed around by Gatland, but is still just 27 so could force his way into contention now he's playing back at loosehead.

Tighthead Prop

Tomos Francis - I know he's been first choice for a while, but he'd be way down the pecking order if he were playing for England/SA etc. Similar to Wyn Jones, he's neither dynamic nor physical enough imo.
Samson Lee - I still hope that he can rediscovering his best form, but calf issues have plagued his career. At his best he's a destructive scrummager and a capable carrier. The likes of Furlong and Sinckler really show what modern day props need to offer, but there's still room for a no nonsense set-piece man imo.
Dillon Lewis - set-piece is his big work-on, but hopefully that will improve over the coming years.
Leon Brown - his scrummaging just isn't good enough, and I don't see it improving enough to be a serious option.
WillGriff John - not considered by Gatland, but imo John is potentially better than most of the names above.

Hooker

Ken Owens - won't make the next world cup, so will need to be phased out over the coming 2 seasons.
Eliot Dee - could become an important player for Pivac with his ball carrying.
Ryan Elias - looks the part, but still hasn't properly shown it for Wales yet.
Sam Parry - I like Parry, but he needs to cement himself as 1st choice for the O's first.
Kristian Dacey - I know some like Dacey, but I've always thought he just falls short.
Dewi Lake - lots of promise here, but he's young. Needs to work on his throwing.

Lock

AWJ - how much longer will he keep going? He wasn't at his best during the WC even if he was still very solid. Another who will need to be phased out both as a player and as a captain.
Jake Ball - not the most dynamic of players maybe, but a big physical lump is always handy. One of Wales' best ball carriers at the WC.
Cory Hill - still has a little to prove imo despite a solid 6N. Could come into his own with the more open style Pivac will likely implement.
Adam Beard - I have some reservations over the physicality of Beard. He's a big lump, but doesn't seem to punch anywhere near his weight. Lineout and maul defence are pluses though.
Seb Davies - massive potential here. He's the athletic type of lock we're missing imo, in the mould of Retallic or Itoje. Not had an opportunity at lock for Wales yet, but I think Pivac will try to fast-track him over the coming months.
Bradley Davies - can do a job in an emergency, but I think the game has passed him by.
Max Williams - starting to emerge at the Dragons.

Blindside Flanker

Ross Moriarty - has done well filling in at 8, but he's a flanker really.
Aaron Wainwright - proven himself as a test player during the WC.
Josh Navidi - another who's best position is on the blindside flank.
Aaron Shingler - after a long injury Shingler wasn't at his best at the WC.

Openside Flanker

Justin Tipuric - I think Tipuric will relish the prospect of playing under Pivac, where the more open style should allow him to showcase his true abilities as a footballer. Potential captain?
Ellis Jenkins - only in red due to his injury, as it may take a little time for him to rediscover form after such a bad injury. He could also be someone Pivac looks to as a captain post AWJ.
James Davies - didn't quite hit his best form during the WC, but Pivac knows him well from the Scarlets. There are question marks over his physicality on the international stage, so still has something to prove.
Olie Griffiths - huge potential here. Probably one of the most physically gifted players we've produced in a while. He could come into the equation on the blindside flank, or even at no. 8 too.
Thomas Young - plenty of options here, with Young another gifted player. It will be interesting to see what stance Pivac takes with players playing outside of Wales.
Sam Lewis - given our options here I doubt Sam will get any opportunities, but he's a quality all rounder nonetheless.
Taine Basham - starting to look the part for the Dragons.

No. 8

Taulupe Faletau - just need him to be fit.
Dan Baker - injuries have hit him hard. Can't see him fulfilling the potential he once showed.
Harrie Keddie - not kicked on as hoped at the Dragons yet, but still plenty of time.
Carwyn Tuipulotu - very young, but physically he's the kind of specimen we're crying out for.
 

dullonien

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Scrum Half

Tomos Williams - potentially world class.
Gareth Davies - Pivac will know all about Davies from the Scarlets. May see Tomos overtaking him.
Aled Davies - don't particularly rate Aled and he should drop out of the reckoning.

Lloyd Williams - decent player, but I think Pivac will prefer younger options.
Kieron Hardy - shown a lot of promise for the Scarlets.
Rhodri Williams - I think there's still more to come from Rhodri.
Harri Morgan - highly rated Ospreys youngster tipped for big things.
Reuben Morgan-Williams - another highly rated Ospreys youngster.
Rhys Webb - still ineligible, but may decide to return to Wales at the end of his contract in France.
Harry Randall - grew up in Wales from the age of 4, so a potential option depending on his allegiances.


Outside Half

Dan Biggar - I think Biggar's international career might be over. I just can't see him being the right fit for Pivac.

Gareth Anscombe - was finally fulfilling his potential pre injury. Another player who should benefit from the more expansive playing style of Pivac.
Rhys Patchell - fell out of favour with Pivac with the Scarlets, but he'll know his potential, and he's close to proving that he's of international calibre imo.

Jarrod Evans - possibly has the highest ceiling of any of our 10's. Pivac will also like his solid tackling technique, something he's criticised Patchell and Dan Jones for in the past.
Sam Davies - lost his way last season, but has looked a little better at the Dragons this season.
Callum Sheedy - another Bristol player who's developing well. Expect one of the regions to try to sign him when his contract is up.

Centre

Hadleigh Parkes - had a fairy-tale year or so prior to the WC, but showed his limitations at the global bash. Age is also against him.

Jonathan Davies - on his day one of the best centres in the game. Struggled with injuries at the WC.
Owen Watkin - more to come from Watkin imo. Could become an important player for us.
Scott Williams - overlooked for the WC, probably due to his back issues, but at 29 he still has a few years remaining.
Owen Lane - I believe Lane should be viewed as a centre, but that will depend on Cardiff Blues. They have Josh Adams and Hallam Amos incoming, so there's a good chance Lane will be tested there.

Willis Halaholo - Pivac would be mad not to have a look at Halaholo given his attacking quality. Consistency is his biggest issue.
Owen Williams - looked the part vs the likes of NZ a couple of seasons back, but discarded by Gatland afterwards. Only 27, so still time.
Kieran Williams - lots of potential, but yet to really begin his regional career due to injury.
Tyler Morgan - injury ravaged, but a very classy player. Still time to fulfil the obvious potential he has.
Jack Dixon - too limited imo.
Aneurin Owen - a way off, but highly rated youngster.
Cory Allen - big things expected of Cory Allen, but injuries appear to have robbed him of half a yard of pace.
 

dullonien

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George North - odd for a 90+ cap player to still have something to prove when they're only 27, but North has massive question marks hanging over him. Wouldn't be surprised if Pivac takes a hard line with him, demanding form for the Ospreys before he's considered for Wales again.

Josh Adams - emerged from a WC as a world class player.
Jonah Holmes - too limited imo.
Steff Evans - fell out of favour with Pivac last season, so has a lot to prove, however he's back scoring lots of try's for the Scarlets this season. Such an important catalyst when playing well, which could really improve Wales' attacking stats.
Keelan Giles - struggling for form after his horror leg break a couple of season back now. One of the most naturally gifted runners in Wales, but playing for a frankly appalling Ospreys side is doing him no favours.
Luke Morgan - proven quality on the sevens circuit, but he never got going in his one and only cap thus far. Probably a little down the pecking order atm.
Ryan Conbeer - I really like the look of this youngster. Could this be his breakthrough season with the Scarlets?
Tom Prydie - when compared to some of the others on this list, it feels like he's lacking a little x-factor.
Ashton Hewitt - beset with injuries during his career, but another gifted runner.

Fullback

Liam Williams - world class, enough said!

Leigh Halfpenny - has his time with Wales come to an end? Pivac did sign him at the Scarlets and played him consistently, but with the options open to him with Wales I'd imagine he'd favour a bit more attacking flair from deep.
Hallam Amos - huge potential from the very rounded Amos. Wasn't at his best v Uruguay, but looked more the part vs NZ in the 3rd place match. He needs some luck with injuries, and needs to cement his place in the Blues backline this season.
Johnny McNicholl - another residency qualified NZer, but a potentially great one. From an attacking perspective he's exceptional, but has some work to do in defence, and decision making.
Jordan Williams - I live in hope that this fellow can fulfil his potential. The most gifted attacking player I've seen, bar none. He can beat a man with ease. However he drifts in and out of games, and is prone to errors.
Matthew Morgan - a little like Jordan above, very gifted runner, but another who's prone to errors, whilst his defence leaves a lot to be desired. I'd like to see both Morgan and Jordan tried out wide where there's less pressure on them defensively and positionally.
Rhun Williams - not sure how long he's been injured for, so his first battle will be to even see if he can cut it as a pro.
 

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I don't know all the players you've mentioned, but the effort is worth the credit.
 

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I know I've made my opinions on Tipuric known on here, but do you really see him as Captain/starting material?

Surely when Jenkins, Navidi and Faletau are fit there's no room in the XV for him, and then you're looking at a Moriarty kinda player for the bench as they cover multiple positions
 

dullonien

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I know I've made my opinions on Tipuric known on here, but do you really see him as Captain/starting material?

Surely when Jenkins, Navidi and Faletau are fit there's no room in the XV for him, and then you're looking at a Moriarty kinda player for the bench as they cover multiple positions

Yup, for me it would be Tipuric, Faletau and AN other. Jenkins was starting to look the real deal prior to his injury, whilst Navidi is an excellent player (though missed a few key tackles at the WC). So maybe one of those at 6, or someone like Wainwright or Griffiths.

Tipuric offers guaranteed defense, he'a a world class lineout jumper, and that's before factoring in his real strengths which are his link play, ball handling and ability in the wider channels. Sure he's not an immovable object over the ball, but he secures a decent amount of turnovers. The way Pivac will likely look to play will suit Tipuric far more than the way Gatland did.

Whether he's captaincy material, I'm not sure. He's captained the Ospreys plenty of times, but he's quite a quiet player so perhaps we'll need to look elsewhere.

Edit. He's also an incredibly durable player who's rarely injured. Not sure I actually remember the last time he was injured! When we conpare that to the likes of Jenkins, Navidi, Griffiths and now sadly Faletau as well, who all spend as much time on the medical table as on the pitch, and that can be a big plus.

I don't think we necessarily saw the best of Tips last season, but he was still consistently on of our top performing players. I'm hoping with a tweaked gameplan we'll see more of the x-factor Tipuric to go along with grafting Tipuric who's hitting rucks, winning lineout ball off the top, tackling his heart out, and holding players up in the tackle.
 
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TRF_Olyy

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Fair play, I'll be interested to see what he's like under the management - definitely wasn't big enough for a Gatland gameplan (hell he was probably too small for Gatland's ideal 9!)
 

dullonien

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Fair play, I'll be interested to see what he's like under the management - definitely wasn't big enough for a Gatland gameplan (hell he was probably too small for Gatland's ideal 9!)

Haha, maybe. It probably hampered us a little at the tackle area, though I think we struggled a little as a whole there recently, even with the likes of Navidi playing. I think we're missing some dominant tacklers in our pack like England have in Underhill which really helps a jackler. Warbs used to have Lydiate to feed off. Moriarty tries, but he's less effective when he's got the added responsibilities of playing 8.

Tips also isn't a physical ball carrier, but I think that's more an issue with our tight 5 really.
 

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Talking of potential Captains, if Ellis Jenkins can get back to his
Autumn International 2018 level I see him as the next long term leader... and I could definitely see Tips prosper under a Pivac regime (if all goes well). So 6. Jenkins 7. Tips and 8 Tobes sounds good to me.
 

dullonien

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Talking of potential Captains, if Ellis Jenkins can get back to his
Autumn International 2018 level I see him as the next long term leader... and I could definitely see Tips prosper under a Pivac regime (if all goes well). So 6. Jenkins 7. Tips and 8 Tobes sounds good to me.

That would probably be my preference as well unless someone really dynamic like Olie Griffiths can get a run of injury free form. It would however put pressure on our tight 5 to provide the ball carrying, especially in the tight. Currently only Ken and Ball really offer anything of note. Rob Evans and Carre are big improvements over Wyn Jones though.

Imo this is one of the biggest tasks facing Pivac. We've struggled to develop go forward ball against the more physical sides. That = slow ball, which is almost impossible to attack from.
 

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I would slightly question if Josh Adams is World Class yet. He's definitely had a fantastic year, but for me World Class are players who play well and have an impact in the majority of games they play, 80-90%. There are many excellent players with talent, but not all fulfill their potential. Shane Williams was easily World Class, because he would have an impact most of the time even if Wales were struggling. I would wait to see if Adams can keep this level up. If so I might change my mind, but one amazing season is not enough for me. Look at how well Itoje did when he started and then fell away a bit. He's started to find that level again, but it did go wandering after an impressive start.

I'd also question Tipuric too as sometimes I feel he goes missing in certain games. Maybe I'm a bit harsh on my criteria, but World Class should be players who could get into any side in the world and I don't see that with Tipuric or Adams (yet). Liam Williams I would say is world class, because for me he has a real impact in almost every game he plays and has down for the last few years and forced out Halfpenny. Faletau would be if he was't injured. I'd also possibly say Ken Owens has been over the last few years, definitely one of the more consistent performers in the side. North in his prime definitely was, but head injuries have taken a real toll.

I'd say Ellis Jenkins definitely has the potential he he recovers well. Tomos Williams could be if he can maintain a high level. Not sure about some of the others as I've not seen enough of them. Certainly during the world cup there were very few consistent performers for Wales imo.

Also to give some perspective for me the only definite world class player for England is Sinckler at the moment. Itoje if he maintains the level he's shown this year is as well. Curry and Underhill will be if they also maintain this level over the next year or 2. Tuilagi is, but sometimes, like in the final, he isn't given the opportunity with the way England play.
 

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That would probably be my preference as well unless someone really dynamic like Olie Griffiths can get a run of injury free form. It would however put pressure on our tight 5 to provide the ball carrying, especially in the tight. Currently only Ken and Ball really offer anything of note. Rob Evans and Carre are big improvements over Wyn Jones though.

Imo this is one of the biggest tasks facing Pivac. We've struggled to develop go forward ball against the more physical sides. That = slow ball, which is almost impossible to attack from.

I think Faletau is our best bet on the ball carrying front at the moment (though he is no spring chicken), and if Rhys Carre can ‘carry’ on with his development within the scrum and manage to get his ball carrying at senior level somewhere near to what he was able to do at under 20’s he could take on the responsibility.

I see you included Carwyn Tuipulotu, I haven’t seen him play at all yet but am excited to see what he is capable of too.
 

dullonien

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I think that's probably fair Reiser99.

Bushytop, i think including Carwyn just shows how few prospects we have at 8! A bit depressing that we're pinning our hopes on an 18y/o kid who hasn't played a proper game of professional rugby yet.
 

bushytop

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I think that's probably fair Reiser99.

Bushytop, i think including Carwyn just shows how few prospects we have at 8! A bit depressing that we're pinning our hopes on an 18y/o kid who hasn't played a proper game of professional rugby yet.

Totally, it is one position where the cupboard is absolutely bare... let’s hope the time away adds a couple of extra years to Faletau’s career.
 

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His first squad is announced.

Forwards: Elliot Dee (Dragons) (29 Caps) Ryan Elias (Scarlets) (9 Caps) Ken Owens (Scarlets) (73 Caps) Rob Evans (Scarlets) (36 Caps) Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (22 Caps) Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (35 Caps) Leon Brown (Dragons) (6 Caps) Samson Lee (Scarlets) (41 Caps) Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps) Jake Ball (Scarlets) (42 Caps) Adam Beard (Ospreys) (20 Caps) Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (66 Caps) Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues) (7 Caps) Taine Basham (Dragons) (Uncapped) Ollie Griffiths (Dragons) (1 Cap) Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped) Ross Moriarty (Dragons) (41 Caps) Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (26 Caps) Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (72 Caps) Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (18 Caps)

Backs: Aled Davies (Ospreys) (20 Caps) Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (51 Caps) Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues) (16 Caps) Sam Davies (Dragons) (8 Caps) Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues) (3 Caps) Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues) (Uncapped) Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (25 Caps) Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (22 Caps) Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues) (2 Caps) Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (21 Caps) Steff Evans (Scarlets) (13 Caps) Ashton Hewitt (Dragons) (Uncapped) Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets) (Uncapped) Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps) Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (85 Caps)

I don't think there is any surprises in there really. Sam Davies has had a decent start with the Dragons and considering injuries he was always going to get a call up. It's a shame that we have to rely on 29+ kiwis but Halaholo and McNicholl will improve squad depth and push for starting places so I'm happy with their inclusions. Shane Lewis-Hughes and Taine Basham have both been impressive so far and deserve their inclusions. Lewis-Hughes is a big ball carrying 6 which is what Wales have really struggled to produce recently, Basham on the other hand is the complete opposite flanker. On the small side for a pro level flanker but has great feet and a big threat in the outside channels. There is always going to be question marks about his size at this level but we have seen how well Privac got James Davies playing so I have hope Basham will suit Wales' style of play. Interestingly, I've read that a few members of the squad are carrying injuries and not expected to play but just in camp to experience the new Wales setup. Seb Davies is another face I'm glad to see back, looked to be a certain test starter at one point but has fell down the pecking order after a drop in form and being played in the back row. A running game is much more suited to his strengths than Gatland's safe, one up forward running so hopefully he get's a chance.
Picking a team is difficult as I'm not sure who is actually fit for this game, you want some of the new guys to get some game time, give players who played a lot at the WC a bit of rest but also don't want to change the team too much.

My team:
McNicholl, Hewitt, Watkin, Halaholo, Adams, J Evans, T Williams, R Evans, Dee, D Lewis, Beard, Ball, Shingler, Basham, Moriaty
Elias, W Jones, Lee, S Davies, Lewis-Hughes, G Davies, S Davies, Lane
 

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Cant see Lane getting time as a 13 at the Blues yet with their 5 first team level centers in their squad. Millard and Smith are good enugh to be first choice let alone 3rd and 4th.
 

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In all honesty Wales are going to be hamstrung for as long as they have Gatlands law in place IMO.
Look at Moriarty and tell me would he have developed much differently if he was at Gloucester? Now what could Dragons have done differently with that free money?

You got people like Simon Thomas who think that Wales club rugby will magically get better with it's Wales players coming back from other countries.
But in reality how many players have made the switch from say the Premiership to the pro 14 and worked out?

The key to when a region has done well in Europe or the league has mainly come from the coaching.

If Wales are not careful they will miss out on the likes of Randall, Lloyd, Reffell, Sheedy, Carre and Costelow from playing many or even any games for them because of it.
Because especially the Bristol players I do not see them moving lightly, with Pat Lam doing a very good job for them and Bris not being light on money.
 

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In all honesty Wales are going to be hamstrung for as long as they have Gatlands law in place IMO.
Look at Moriarty and tell me would he have developed much differently if he was at Gloucester? Now what could Dragons have done differently with that free money?

You got people like Simon Thomas who think that Wales club rugby will magically get better with it's Wales players coming back from other countries.
But in reality how many players have made the switch from say the Premiership to the pro 14 and worked out?

The key to when a region has done well in Europe or the league has mainly come from the coaching.

If Wales are not careful they will miss out on the likes of Randall, Lloyd, Reffell, Sheedy, Carre and Costelow from playing many or even any games for them because of it.
Because especially the Bristol players I do not see them moving lightly, with Pat Lam doing a very good job for them and Bris not being light on money.
The law is rubbish but also not all-encompassing... ie all the boys you mentioned will be able to play for Wales because of the loophole exploited by Josh Adams. Basically, if you are already signed to a club outside of Wales and have as yet not earned a senior cap, you can rep Wales (Carre played at the World Cup using this loophole).

So, theoretically if Lloyd, Costelow at al (who are signed to English clubs but have not yet earned caps) have contract extensions written into their contracts (like Francis at Exeter) & continue to re-sign at the same club for their whole career (or sign for a Welsh Club) they could rep Wales throughout their careers.

Still, regardless of this loophole, I agree the law is not fit for purpose.
 

Dan Kelly is Irish

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The law is rubbish but also not all-encompassing... ie all the boys you mentioned will be able to play for Wales because of the loophole exploited by Josh Adams. Basically, if you are already signed to a club outside of Wales and have as yet not earned a senior cap, you can rep Wales (Carre played at the World Cup using this loophole).

So, theoretically if Lloyd, Costelow at al (who are signed to English clubs but have not yet earned caps) have contract extensions written into their contracts (like Francis at Exeter) & continue to re-sign at the same club for their whole career (or sign for a Welsh Club) they could rep Wales throughout their careers.

Still, regardless of this loophole, I agree the law is not fit for purpose.

Yes but didn't Adams have to move to Cardiff because of the law?
Which again I don't quite get given his worcester form earnt him a spot for Wales and not like Worcester have regressed.
 
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