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    Wales v Argentina

    True to form, Warren Gatland comes up with another left-field selection for Argentina


    Warren Galtand revealed rookies Cory Allen and Rhodri Jones would face Argentina on Saturday.


    Warren Gatland chose to announce his team to face Argentina in the golf clubhouse at Wales’ Vale Resort headquarters.


    His starting XV was a further reminder that when it comes to selection the New Zealander is not one to confront a potential hazard and lay up cautiously with an iron.


    No, Gatland is more the type to reach for the driver, lay into the ball Tiger Woods-style, and back himself to hit the green.


    Sure, the Wales coach has been called conservative in the past, but that is more a nod to the playing style he prefers to adopt, the so-called ‘Warrenball’ that opponents find easy to decipher, but difficult to stop.


    But in terms of left-field individual inclusions – and exclusions for that matter – Gatland is no stranger to doing the opposite of what most observers anticipate.


    So it was this time, with the revelation that 20-year-old Blues centre Cory Allen will wear the No.13 jersey against the Pumas at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow.


    Had you asked 10 members of the press corps to write down beforehand the back line they expected Gatland to name for the second match of the autumn series, then it’s a fair bet the Arms Park youngster wouldn’t have featured on any of the respective team sheets.


    That’s no slight on Allen whatsoever, merely to point out that in the absence of both Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts, the understandable consensus was that either Ashley Beck, who replaced Davies when he went off injured against South Africa, or the 71-times capped James Hook would get the nod.


    Not a bit of it though. Gatland has backed the rookie – and who’s to say it won’t prove a masterstroke?


    After all, the last time the Kiwi susprised people with a selection was when he left Brian O’Driscoll out of the Lions team for the third Test against Australia last July, and we all know what happened there.




    The Allen call isn’t quite in O’Driscoll territory when it comes to boldness, but it is bold all the same. Perhaps more should have seen it coming however, because Gatland does have form.


    Last January there was a degree of incredulity when Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, who had been a semi-professional for most of his career, and Olly Kohn, a 31-year-old Bristol-born sausage-maker who was playing for Harlequins, were named in the squad to face Ireland ahead of the opening game of the Six Nations. Technically, the pair’s elevation was Rob Howley’s call, caretaker as he was at the time, but you can bet they both arrived in camp with Gatland’s behind-the-scenes endorsement.


    Coombs and Kohn were no ordinary cases because of the length of time they had been in the game before making the step up to international level.


    But their situations did echo that of Lloyd Burns, the former bricklayer who was 26 and a Cross Keys hooker filling in occasionally at the Dragons when he suddenly found himself part of Gatland’s preparations for the 2011 World Cup, making his debut against the Barbarians in Cardiff in June of that year.


    Allen, of course, is not of the ilk of Coombs, Kohn and Burns. He’s an academy product, a fresh-faced bolter with boundless potential, but all the same we have been here before under Gatland.


    In March 2010 the former Wasps chief made Tom Prydie, then 17, the youngest ever Wales player since Norman Biggs in 1898 by helicoptering him in for the clash with Italy in Cardiff. Harry Robinson was also still a teenager when picked to face the Baa-Baas in the summer of last year.


    Not all of the above-mentioned have been roaring successes. Prydie, for example, saw his career stall after his Wales bow almost four years ago, but he’s back on the scene now, flourishing at the Dragons and winning a call-up to the national squad again earlier this week, Gatland stressing yesterday that Prydie had looked sharp before injuring his hamstring.


    The key point is that Gatland gets more of these choices right than wrong, and the likes of George North, Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts, all pitched into senior international rugby by the victorious Lions coach, are proof of that.


    Gatland has said he hopes Allen will follow in their footsteps, and you do get the sense that a guy who played in the Wales Under-20s win against New Zealand last year is going to be around at this level for the long haul.



    Well, Saturday is his big chance to show there is perhaps more depth at Gatland’s disposal than some may think.


    Ditto tighthead prop Rhodri Jones, another whose selection caught most observers on the hop.


    With Adam Jones out for the rest of the month with a calf strain, few could have foreseen that this particular Jones, who has been fourth-choice at the Scarlets, would be the man asked to deputise.


    Gatland said the former Llandovery College pupil had impressed in training, but to say the jury is out on his readiness to anchor the Welsh scrum against Argentina is an understatement.


    Again though, what a chance for Aberystwyth-product Jones to finally become the answer to what Wales do when his more illustrious namesake is crocked.


    If Gatland is rolling the dice somewhat here, then handing the No.10 shirt back to Dan Biggar is less of a gamble. Up to now, Rhys Priestland has been the management’s favoured option, but he didn’t produce his best against the Springboks and Biggar, who many felt was harshly omitted after navigating Wales impressively through the Six Nations last season, has his chance once more.


    Not that you sense much permanency in the thinking at fly-half. Gatland spoke of assessing Priestland, Biggar and Hook – the Perpignan man, it seems, will play at 10 against Tonga – before making a decision on who will face Australia, although Hook is unavailable for that one.


    And so what of the back row? With Dan Lydiate having hurt his ankle, it appears the decision to move captain Sam Warburton to the blindside flank and bring in Justin Tipuric at No.7 was forced. Yet who’s to say Gatland is unduly bothered about having another look at the Warburton-Faletau-Tipuric back row triumvirate that helped deliver a 30-3 thrashing of England last March? Who’s to say he won’t stick with it come the Wallabies assignment, Lydiate or no Lydiate?


    That would be a surprise. That would be Gatland down to a tee.





    WALES TEAM v ARGENTINA

    Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Cory Allen (Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Unattached), Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues – CAPT), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Toby Faletau (Dragons).

    Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), Ashley Beck (Ospreys).

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/r...warren-6306789
    Cé go bhfuil an namhaid trampled underfoot mo thír, fhios ag an teanga d'aois na Breataine Bige aon Retreat. Evan James 1856

    #2
    Thank goodness, finally a win in an AI, and the first since 2009 ! Wales 40 - 6 Argentina
    Cé go bhfuil an namhaid trampled underfoot mo thír, fhios ag an teanga d'aois na Breataine Bige aon Retreat. Evan James 1856

    Comment


      #3
      Hibbard was fantastic.
      Allen looks like he's got what it takes. Solid debut
      The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

      Originally posted by the plastic paddy
      Gwan the Welsh

      Comment


        #4
        That baldy Argentine 11 was a joy to watch
        "They think they know us, but they haven't a clue"

        Comment


          #5
          There were a number of good performances today. MoM went to Toby Faletau, but I'm with you there Huwie. I'm a big fan of Hibs, his work rate is bonkers. Same last week from him, against the Boks. Wales could have scored a couple more tries, they were there for a tuning the argies. No disrespect to them , but for Wales THE game is v Australia. They will want that very badly indeed.

          Shame about Ireland today, they were very poor though.
          Cé go bhfuil an namhaid trampled underfoot mo thír, fhios ag an teanga d'aois na Breataine Bige aon Retreat. Evan James 1856

          Comment


            #6
            Great performance by Wales backs in particular. So many support runners on each break
            My computer thinks I'm gay
            What's the difference anyway
            When all the people do all day
            Is stare into a phone

            Comment


              #7
              Oh no, more injuries at centre. Cory Allen has dislocated his shoulder, and Scott Williams has damaged toe ligaments . We are now very thin in the centre. Could this hail a return of the Henson ?
              Cé go bhfuil an namhaid trampled underfoot mo thír, fhios ag an teanga d'aois na Breataine Bige aon Retreat. Evan James 1856

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Owain View Post
                Oh no, more injuries at centre. Cory Allen has dislocated his shoulder, and Scott Williams has damaged toe ligaments . We are now very thin in the centre. Could this hail a return of the Henson ?
                You're kidding me. FFS!!
                Hook, Beck and Owen Williams + North are possible centres left in the squad.
                Henson is a busted flush, I wouldn't bring him anywhere near the squad.
                The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

                Originally posted by the plastic paddy
                Gwan the Welsh

                Comment


                  #9
                  Turns out Owen Williams is also injured. Took a knock in training. And Scott saying he could be grand. TBH I'd rather keep him fit for Australia. So beck and hook? With North covering?
                  The axe that cuts the tree can easily forget, but the tree thats been cut will not forget.

                  Originally posted by the plastic paddy
                  Gwan the Welsh

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Huwie View Post
                    Turns out Owen Williams is also injured. Took a knock in training. And Scott saying he could be grand. TBH I'd rather keep him fit for Australia. So beck and hook? With North covering?

                    Yes, that's pretty sound. There is a viewpoint that would like to see North have a run at centre, but then you are looking fill a gap on the wing, where there are injuries too. Gatland though is prone to bringing a newcomer, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he has a look at someone from right outside the box.
                    Cé go bhfuil an namhaid trampled underfoot mo thír, fhios ag an teanga d'aois na Breataine Bige aon Retreat. Evan James 1856

                    Comment

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