There are many happy rugby players in Wales today, but a handful of others will be deeply disappointed. While many players will be celebrating their selection to the Wales Six Nations squad today, there are those who are licking their wounds after failing to break through.
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With only eight months left until the Rugby World Cup, missing out on the Six Nations is a hammer blow for anyone dreaming of representing Wales in France. We apply the rule to those unfortunate enough to miss out on the six nation selection.
The absence of the 54-time Dragons rower behind him was perhaps the biggest shock. Moriarty is a player Gatland has historically been drawn to, given his uncompromising nature and rugged physicality. The 28-year-old is in great form for the Dragons, but he can also play blindfold and at number 8. His regional teammate Aaron Wainwright is ahead of him and Gatland is a big fan of the former Cardiff City footballer.
It’s confusing because Moriarty is exactly the type of serious striker who can hold his own and even get the better of the likes of Peter O’Mahony when Wales launch their Six Nations campaign against Ireland next month.
Moriarty’s contract expires at the end of the season and if he decides to join an English or French club, he will not be eligible to represent Wales in the Rugby World Cup under the 60-match law. Even if he were selected for the Six Nations, he would only be able to play a maximum of 59 caps, meaning he would need special permission from the Professional Rugby Board to play in the Rugby World Cup 2023. Could this be a reason for his non-selection?
Another headache on the face. Smith has been the best defensive midfielder in Welsh rugby for the past two seasons. The Ospreys player is a destructive grappler who breaks sides on a weekly basis on standard. Against Leinster two weeks ago, he eliminated renowned tackler Michael Alalalatoa, knocking him back at knots.
This is par for the course for Smith, who very rarely comes in second place, although he is also a serious threat in the fall. Instead, Gatland chose Rhys Carré, Wyn Jones and Gareth Thomas. Scarlets man Jones has only played half of rugby, albeit an impressive half, since October, but he is clearly the man Gatland believes plays a big part in the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup.
Thomas was one of the successful players of the Pivak era, and Carré is the sort of explosive physical specimen that Gatland likes in his tight five forwards. Most likely, Smith’s size played against him in international rugby, the giants’ game.
Evans has been the best attacking underdog in Welsh rugby this season and his kicking game has steadily improved. The 26-year-old has taken on Cardiff’s attack this season, constantly challenging the line. Gatland was always going to pick Dan Biggar, while Reece Patchell’s versatility combined with Owen Williams’ form outpaced Evans in the pick.
In the past Gatland and Pivak have had reservations about Evans’ management of the big games and Cardiff’s Challenge Cup play would not have helped his cause. On the other hand, Owen Williams has been the Osprey’s standout in some big games, playing a crucial role in their stunning back-to-back Heineken Cup wins against Montpellier. His excellent handling of the game could very well have made the difference in Cardiff.
This season he was the best scrum half in Wales. The 24-year-old has really ignited the Scarlets offensive game in recent months. He likes to play fast and loose, but the Welsh breeders really need to see him play a game that is not played on his terms. As with Evans, his handling of the game may be questionable, while one has to wonder how he will handle under pressure in a big test match at some Twickenham?
These questions need to be answered, but Gatland has plumped up thanks to the experience of Rhys Webb, Tomos Williams and Kieran Hardy. Hardy and Webb also have excellent kicks, while their rugby style may be better suited to the Six Nations. For more about knowing Wales Rugby World Cup Tickets.
Costelow was seen as a long-term successor to Dan Biggar, but he’ll have to bide his time for now. Costelow missed several rugby matches during the holiday period after the HIA’s failure against the Ospreys, which could have been counted against him. He runs great in the outfield, kicking hard, and his game control is very good for such a young man.
Biggar is one of the first names on the team list, while Owen Williams has more miles on his account. Rhys Patchell’s great versatility has earned him a spot on the team. Perhaps his small stature went against him despite the fact that he doesn’t miss anything on defense. It’s more likely that Gatland sees Costelow as a player of the future rather than the here and now.
Wayne Pivak sold the 34-year-old’s shares, but he’s been playing well for the Scarlets lately. Davis was a key player in Gatland’s first era and even though his peak has passed, he remains the center of quality. His defensive play is unparalleled while he can still take his team over the winning line from an inside center position.
But Gatland expressed concern about the age profile of the team he inherited from Pivac, although it was difficult to strike the right balance. Davis likely paid the price for this as Gatland looks to the future as Keiran Williams and Mason Grady. Never say never, but this could very well be the end of Davis’ international career.
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