With the France Rugby World Cup just six months away, Gatland will already be thinking about what improvements need to be made to ensure the Wales rugby team is competitive in France. At the end of the Six Nations, when all the raw feeling has fizzled out, Warren Gatland will surely find a silent hour or two at his family home in Hamilton, New Zealand, to think about what more needs to be done to get his Wales team back on the path.
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This Six Nation has been a shaking experience for Gatland, a trainer who is more familiar with competing for silverware than upholding up the table, with Wales a country mile off the level essential to compete with the best Rugby World Cup teams later this year. In Gatland’s defence, he only had a few training periods to try to fix a team which had lost at home to both Italy and Georgia in the past 12 months.
While he was also mandatory to gather an almost brand-new training team. What the New Zealander will be holding onto is the point he will get two months of admission to his players, along with three warm-up games, before the France Rugby World Cup 2023. We take a close look at what Gatland will have cultured during this Six Nations and the queries which still need answering.
Wales needs an RWC training team
Much has been made of the age sketch of this Wales team, with far too many players over the age of 30. Both Gatland and his forerunner Wayne Pivac have possibly been guilty of holding onto some players for a little too long. Gatland has strained his best to get the balance right between skill and fresh blood during the contest, but it has been hard going. For more about knowing Wales Rugby World Cup Tickets.
Take the centre company as a case in point, with both Joe Hawkins and Mason Grady having underway against both England and Italy. Both are 20 years old with a measly seven caps between them. They both have the perspective to make a real impact on the global stage but they are still learning their trade. They have played well on the whole and will be improved for the experience, but there are parts which they need to brush up on, particularly in defence.
It’s the same story with young second-row Dafydd Jenkins and his Exeter Chiefs co-player Christ Tshiunza. They have shown talented signs but are still very bumpy around the edges. One would hope they would be even further down the line of their growth by September, but Gatland will have learnt he can’t mark down his experts too quickly given the Rugby World Cup 2023 is just six months away.
The attack wants a lot of effort before RWC 2023
There is no point in sugar-coating this: Wales’ violent play is streets behind every other side in the Six Nations, together with Italy. Traditionally, Gatland’s team have trusted heavily on a strong kicking game, winning the impacts and an almost solid defensive system, but the game has stirred on. Gatland and his attack coach Alex King need to develop a game plan which gets the best out of what could be a potent Welsh back division.
The likes of Ireland, France, and Scotland are rulers at manipulating opposition defences with their skill planes and speed of thought, giving all three an attack which is hard to contain. During the Six Nations, Wales have inclined to run out of ideas after a few phases, and it’s hard to see what they are trying to attain. To make an impression at the France Rugby World Cup, Wales will need to ask more questions behind the scrum and eventually score tries.
Will Rowlands and Cory Hill be badly needed?
Wales have missed Will Rowlands awfully during the Six Nations, with the Racing 92-bound lock providing the faultless mix of physicality, dynamism and strength which has been missing. Adam Beard is a skilled campaigner who played well against Italy, while Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza have big expectations. Alun Wyn Jones is still around but Wales needs a bit more from their front five, and Gatland will be anxious to get Rowlands onto the field for RWC.
He will also want to get Cory Hill back into the mix with the 31-year-old, who presently plies his trade for Yokohama Canon Eagles in Japan, another who could give them a stronger edge. Hill was a vital member of Gatland’s team in the lead-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, helping Wales win the Grand Slam that year and counting a try against England. But he hasn’t played for his nation since the 2021 Six Nations.
Gatland’s toughest Rugby World Cup 2023 squad
It remains enormously difficult to decipher what Gatland’s toughest side would be should Wales be playing a Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final tomorrow, and everyone was fit. For all his fixing during the Six Nations, it is hard to see a back-line which doesn’t contain Liam Williams and George North.
Gatland is a gigantic fan of Gareth Anscombe, and should he be fit there’s a good chance he would enviable for the Ospreys playmaker over Dan Biggar, while Rhys Webb has concrete himself as the first-choice scrum-half. Up front, Rowlands is likely to walk straight back into the boiler house, while Gatland may go for the luxuries of a more physical blindside like Lydiate.
Anxious raises at Fiji Rugby World Cup regardless of the players continuing to shine
With the RWC 2023 just around the angle, Fiji Rugby is energetic with activity. Simon Raiwalui was recently broadcast as the Flying Fijians national trainer with five secondary coaches, three being of Fijian legacy, Senirusi Seruvakula, Seremaia Bai and Graham Dewes, as well as Glen Jackson and Brad Harris. This was joined with the statement of Inoke Male, as head teacher of the unbeaten Super W Fijiana Drua women’s side. For more about knowing Fiji Rugby World Cup Tickets.
On the home front, Fiji rugby admirers were discouraged early this week, when Fiji Rugby interim CEO Tevita Tuiloa, in a private post on Facebook, spoke on the welfare of players, their adversities and trials as well as the shocking news concerning a promise not fulfilled, a house and land package for Fiji’s global rugby sevens star Jerry Tuwai. It was a potential made by the previous Fiji First, Frank Bainimarama-led rule, who is the present president of Fiji Rugby.
A fact that too many do not come as a wonder. The previous week, the temporary CEO also posted his concerns around player welfare problems, referencing the sudden death of 19-year-old Ratu Pasikali Naevo, who malformed training at the Fiji rugby high-performance site whilst preparing for the upcoming world rugby U20 competitions in South Africa in June.
With the sad news breaking out across the nation, staff leading the camp were instantly terminated by Fiji Rugby, unbeknownst to the temporary CEO. Furthermore, much to the surprise of many, three days later they were recalled and re-issued suspension letters, but are now presently back in training camp for France Rugby World Cup.
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