Will it be the same 15 as started for Wales last Saturday or will the selector(s) stick with the same team? That’s a question that’s been kicked around in many a bar ever since the middle of the first half of the match against Ireland where the performance was pretty woeful.
Here’s my plan for the resurrection of Welsh rugby for Saturday:
- Ryan Jones starts at 6 and as Captain. He is the only guy I’ve seen acting as a true leader on the field and his game management and decision making is always excellent. Any suggestion to put him in the second row is madness, and an insult to the Evans/Coombs partnership that put in a very credible performance last Saturday.
- Justin Tipuric should start at 7, he brings a skill and speed to all that happens and fires life into the rest of the team
- Paul James will oust Gethin Jenkins so that we can get a stronger front row and dominate any French action in that department. He is less mobile that GJ, but with Tipuric at the breakdown we don’t need a prop who thinks he’s a spare wing-forward.
- Hooker is a tough call: Matthew Rees adds some scrummaging strength, but Ken Owens enlivened proceedings when he arrived on the park and Richard Hibbard could do the same in spades. Start with Hibbard with Owens on the bench.
- At 9 Phillips has to take a rest, he’s not fired up in the way he used to be and is slowing down the ball more than Richie McCaw. Williams starts, but expect Phillips to join the fray if our backs are against the wall in the second half.
- 10 is Hook. Biggar does not cut it at this level, he not only took long enough for Rory Best to charge down his kick, but he also was responsible for not clearing his lines at the start of the second half, which lead to the Irish try.
- The midfield need a change and I think it’s Roberts that needs to be given a rest. He had become one dimensional and I think we could do better with a Scarlets partnership of Williams and Davies.
- The Back 3 remain unchanged, but if North doesn’t do something this week his place will definitely be at risk pretty soon, especially once Eli Walker is fit again.
That’s a lot of change, but I’m convinced it will be the changes for the right reasons too. If we don’t win against France the season is over, so we need to step up and play to our speed not just to our muscle, keeping the game moving, but with a little bit of tough at the front.
Sorry Sam, but you won’t be needed this weekend at the start of the game but you’re bound to be on at some time and as you’ll then be going forward you’ll excel once again.