Wales coach Warren Gatland will today name his XV for his team’s clash against England on Sunday. Both teams will use the match as preparation for their respective summer tours to New Zealand and Australia next month.
Here’s the XV I feel Gatland should pick for Sunday’s game:
15. Liam Williams
Williams has suffered an injury-interrupted season but has impressed when fit. One of Wales’ most dangerous attacking weapons, the 25 year-old always makes things happen.
Blessed with excellent feet, an ability to run clever angles, and plenty of pace, Wales will look to get the wiry 15 into the game as much as possible.
14. Hallam Amos
With Alex Cuthbert ruled out of the tour to New Zealand, the No. 14 shirt is a direct shootout between the Dragons flyer and the Blues’ Tom James.
I would plump for Amos before the experienced James, due to his greater pace and attacking threat. Given space, the twinkle toed Amos will test England’s defence.
13. Scott Williams
With the established Jonathan Davies unavailable due to club commitments in France, Williams should be a dead cert at 13.
Williams recently came back from a six-month injury lay-off, picking up a Man of the Match award in the Scarlets judgement day win over the Dragons. His excellent distribution skills, pace, vision and outside break make him a constant threat to opposing defences.
12. Jamie Roberts
The ‘Doc’ was one of Wales’ standout performers in the Six Nations and has also enjoyed an excellent first season with Harlequins.
Vastly experienced, the 29-year-old powerhouse will offer Wales a big gainline presence as well as a ferocious edge in defence.
11. George North
One of the World’s best wingers, the 24-year-old enjoyed an excellent Six Nations, touching down four times and topping the most defenders beaten chart.
If Wales can get him enough ball, the Northampton giant will provide plenty of problems for England’s defence.
10. Dan Biggar
Biggar enjoyed another impressive Six Nations campaign, on the heels of a fantastic World Cup outing.
With his game management skills and outstanding temperament, Biggar will be looking to repeat his World Cup heroics against the Red Rose after tasting defeat in HQ in March.
9. Rhys Webb
After missing the World Cup, the Ospreys 9 has been outstanding since his return. His quick service and attacking threat will stand Wales in good stead come Sunday and down in New Zealand.
I’d bring on understudy Gareth Davies for the last twenty to give him some game time before New Zealand.
8. Talupe Faletau
One of the first names on Warren Gatland’s team sheet, Bath-bound Faletau is consistently excellent.
Wales will look to utilise his dynamism and ball carrying ability to get on the front foot on Sunday.
7. Josh Turnbull
With Skipper Sam Warburton ruled out with a shoulder injury, the versatile Blues back-rower should get the nod.
Voted the Blues Player of the Season, Turnbull has been outstanding at 6 this year, impressing equally in the second row when called upon as well.
His last outing at 7 for Wales, in June 2014 against South Africa, saw him put in a Man of the Match performance in Wales’ narrow 31-30 loss to the Boks.
6. Dan Lydiate (Captain):
The tough-tackling Ospreys 6 will give Wales a tough defensive edge with his chop tackling and his physicality around the fringes.
With his experience, I’d give him the captain’s armband for Sunday.
5. Bradley Davies
54-cap Davies will give Wales plenty of ballast up front with his big ball carrying and grunt at scrum time.
The 29-year-old, who recently signed an NDC with the Ospreys and Wales’ experience will be important come Sunday, and in the land of the long white cloud.
4. Luke Charteris
After an outstanding season in France with Racing 92, the 66 times capped lock gets my vote ahead of Alun Wyn Jones.
Imperious at the lineout with an ability to spoil and steal opposition ball, Charteris has developed into a top quality lock.
With Alun Wyn Jones declared fit after two months out with a foot injury, I’d start Charteris before bringing Jones on around the 50-minute mark to get some game time under his belt.
3. Samson Lee
In an all-Scarlets front row, the 21-year-old packs down at 3.
The tighthead returned to form during the Six Nations, locking the welsh scrum authoritatively and will look to continue his run of form into this summer’s tests.
2. Ken Owens
‘Cannonball Ken’ has become known as a super sub for Wales, with his powerful ball carrying and dynamism around the park always giving Wales a fresh impetus in the final quarter of a game.
Scott Baldwin has been consistently good for Wales in the last couple of years but Owens’ greater ball carrying skills and lineout throwing should see him start at 2 this weekend.
1. Rob Evans
The 24-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough tournament in this year’s Six Nations, impressing with his solid scrummaging and outstanding work in the loose.
Evans has cemented his place at loosehead in front of the legendary Gethin Jenkins and his tussle with the experienced Dan Cole should be intriguing.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena
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