Warren Gatland will name his Six Nations squad in the coming weeks. With the Christmas holidays largely in the rearview mirror, attention will now turn firmly to the Six Nations 2024, which kicks off the month today.
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Warren Gatland and his assistant coaches will be busy monitoring a number of players ahead of the announcement of Wales’ Six Nations squad in a few weeks. The festive derby pitted a large number of Welsh hopefuls against each other, which would hopefully give Gatland some much-needed answers, while he also took a look at the English Premier League and France’s top two divisions.
Gatland will have to find the right balance between selecting a team he believes can compete to win the championship and a team that hopes to start training players for the next Rugby World Cup. Rugby correspondent Steffan Thomas picks his Wales squad for the Six Nations.
There has been considerable hype surrounding Exeter Chiefs player Emmanuel Fahey-Waboso, with a tug of war apparently emerging between England and Wales over his services. It is likely that the 21-year-old will be included in Gatland’s Six Nations squad and is likely to be a strong contender to start the Championship opener against Scotland on February 3.
Fahey-Waboso is a lethal striker who has a good combination of physicality and speed, and his defensive game is also quite solid. Chasing is one of the most important aspects of a forward’s game, and this is another area where Fahey-Waboso excels.
Six Nations – Fresh Faces in the Back Three
Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit are closest to making the cut, while Dragons speedster Rio Dier is also a likely choice. Much of the debate will center around who will wear the number 15 shirt in the absence of Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams.
It could be a case of Gatland opting to start with experience by moving Adams or Rees-Zammit to No.15, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see some fresh blood in the back three. New Dragons signing Kay Evans was a member of Gatland’s extended World Cup squad and the 24-year-old has performed well this season.
Young Cardiff fullback Cameron Winnett has arguably been the best fullback in Welsh rugby this season. Winnett is a talented player with a low error rate.
The 20-year-old’s free kick is top notch, while his positional sense and ability to handle the high ball are also worth checking out. It will also be interesting to see what plans Gatland has for Mason Grady.
The 21-year-old was part of the Six Nations and World Cup squads as a center last season, but the Cardiff man has been tearing up trees on the wing this season.
Back three: Kai Evans, Cameron Winnett, Josh Adams, Rio Dyer, Louis Rees-Zammit, Mason Grady, Immanuel Fahey-Waboso.
The partnership of centers Nick Thompkins and George North worked well in France last autumn and the pair are likely to play together against Scotland in February. Thompkins was not far from being Wales’ player at the World Cup and has taken his game to the next level over the last couple of seasons. You can also read Wales Six Nations 2024 Tale of Promise and Challenges Peel’s High Hopes for Scarlets Duo and Morse’s Rising Star.
As already noted, Grady is an option in the middle and the fact that he played on the wing for Cardiff makes him an ideal option on the bench for Wales. Wales were very impressed with Joe Roberts over the summer, with the 23-year-old playing well during the defeat to England at Twickenham last August.
Roberts displays a physical presence and is a consummate 13, while also providing Wales with a left-footed kicking option that is vital when going out at Test level. He hasn’t pulled up or climbed trees this season, but Scarlets center Jonny Williams can get in there with his straight carry game.
Eddie James a big star for Six Nations Squad
Young Scarlets midfielder Eddie James could also be an option moving forward, but the 21-year-old faces some time on the sidelines. One player who is in excellent form is Cardiff center Ben Thomas. The 25-year-old brings something a little different to the table, with his passing, kicking and peripheral vision tearing defenses to shreds this season. But there are some questions surrounding his defense, although he has added more of a physical edge to his game this season.
The fact that he can also play as a central midfielder and defender doesn’t hurt his chances either. Dragons midfielder Aneurin Owen and Ospreys Keiron Williams are also contenders.
Centers: Nick Thompkins, George North, Joe Roberts, Ben Thomas, Johnny Williams
Outside-halves for Six Nations
When Gatland asked at the post-World Cup press conference where the cupboard would be empty for the next four years, he chose the number 10 shirt. With Dan Biggar retired from Test rugby and Gareth Anscombe now plying his trade in Japan, Gatland needs to find answers.
Given he played for Wales at the World Cup, Sam Costelow appears to be in pole position to start the Six Nations in number 10. Costelow returned to the Scarlets squad following their defeat to the Dragons on New Year’s Day.
Yes, the 22-year-old had a Don Clarke moment, missing a late penalty just in front of the post, but he could play for another 50 years and wouldn’t make that mistake again. Putting the missed penalty aside, Kostelov had a fine game and brought great shape to the Scarlets’ attack, while his game management and defending were very good.
Flying High with Scarlets in Six Nations: Ioan Lloyd’s Stellar Start
The former Bristol man has made a great start to his Scarlets career, with his only miss coming against Ospreys when he missed three shots on goal, but the smart money is that this is an anomaly given his form over many years. outside the playing area. most of the season. Lloyd has played most of his under-10s rugby this season but performed well for the Scarlets at fullback against the Dragons and can also play for the under-12s if required.
Lloyd is arguably Wales’ most naturally gifted player, but the question is where will he fit into Wales’ back line? If it were up to me, I would include the 22-year-old in the squad as a reserve player.
It will also be interesting to see whether Gatland looks at Callum Sheedy, who appears to have found some form for Bristol, while Ospreys’ Owen Williams is a reliable option who perhaps provides a little more control than other 10s.
Second midfielders: Sam Costelow, Owen Williams, Ioan Lloyd.
Scrum-half for Six Nations Squad
The number nine shirt looks fairly stable, with Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams the clear favourites. Despite the Scarlets’ poor start to the season, Davies was good and performed brilliantly at the World Cup in Wales.
Davies may be approaching the end of his career, but the Newcastle Emlyn man remains as dangerous an attacking player as ever and his game management has improved immeasurably. A Gloucester-bound scrum-half, Williams has been in excellent form for Cardiff this season and is a true X-factor player who can create things out of absolutely nothing. Rugby fans can book Wales vs Italy Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.
It’s time for the 29-year-old to grab Wales’ number nine jersey by the collar and make it his own. But the prospect of Davies and Williams becoming your best scrum-half is not a bad one. Scarlets number nine Kieran Hardy is likely to third choice given part of Wales’ extended World Cup squad and was called up late.
Scrum halves: Tomos Williams, Gareth Davis, Kieran Hardy
All three of the big heads Gatland picked for his World Cup squad now work outside Wales, which could prove problematic. Thomas Francis (Provence Rugby), Henry Thomas (Montpellier) and Dillon Lewis (Harlequins) will not be able to take part in the training camp ahead of the Six Nations tournament and will also have to return to their club for the steam weekend.
It will be interesting to see whether Gatland continues to select Francis given that he is currently playing in ProD2, or whether the Provence side will want to continue playing Test rugby, but the reality is that the 31-year-old remains Wales’ best tighthead. Lewis has received regular game time for Harlequins, albeit often off the bench, while Thomas hasn’t made much of a difference for Montpellier this season.
In my opinion, having three big players playing outside of Wales causes too many problems in terms of preparation time and release of players. I’d pick Francis and Lewis and also include Cardiff and Dragons’ Kieran Assiratti in support of Leon Brown if he can stay fit.
Six Nations – Excitement Over Corey Domachowski’s Potential
Brown has had problems in the scrum, but he is a powerful ball-handler, something that Wales coaches place a lot of emphasis on. In headless state, Gareth Thomas remains the obvious first choice having had a great World Cup while there is excitement around the potential of Cardiff player Corey Domachowski.
Nicky Smith would also be in my team, but he is not currently playing and is unlikely to return to the team for the next few weeks. If he is ruled out, Kemsley Mathias and Wyn Jones options. At hooker, Gatland is likely to pick three who went to the World Cup, with Dewey Lake a strong candidate to wear the captain’s armband.
Despite the Scarlets’ poor form, Ryan Elias is playing well. Elias comes in for a lot of criticism, but the Scarlets man is a powerful ball-handler and one of the best hookers in the world.
Front row: Gareth Thomas, Nicky Smith, Corey Domachowski, Dewey Lake (captain), Ryan Elias, Elliot Dee, Thomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Kieran Assiratti, Leon Brown.
Second-rows for Six Nations
Gatland will want to add some depth to the top five in the coming seasons. Adam Bird is not everyone’s favorite but is one of the first names on Gatland’s squad list, but it would be a surprise if Exeter Chiefs youngster Dafydd Jenkins does not become a senior player within the next few years.
Will Rowlands will be 36 by 2027 but will likely remain with the team for now. Abrasive Ospreys second-row Rhys Davies will also be pushing hard for selection, as will Teddy Williams, who is playing well for Cardiff. Rugby fans can book Wales vs Scotland Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.
Stylistically, Williams is the type of lock the All Blacks typically go for as he is athletic, has a physical edge and has a great offloading game. One name that is rarely mentioned is Cardiff second-row Seb Davies, who is producing some of the best rugby in recent years, while the Ospreys’ James Fender is also in excellent form.
Second row: Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Dafydd Jenkins, Teddy Williams, Rhys Davies.
Back-row for Wales Six Nations team
The backline is an area that could cause headaches for the Wales management, with World Cup captain Jacques Morgan a huge doubt throughout the tournament and Taulupe Faletau still not back after breaking his arm against Georgia in France. Faletau remains a genuine world-class player and has historically not required too much rugby in the lead-up to a Test match.
With Morgan likely to be unavailable, Leicester’s Tommy Reffell is the clear favorite to start the game from open play. Thain Basham was a member of Gatland’s World Cup squad but has not played his best rugby for the Dragons this season, helped by a four-game ban for a heavy tackle against Leinster.
Cardiff’s James Botham is playing very well and can cover the entire back line, while Josh MacLeod is also a contender, especially considering he included in Gatland’s extended World Cup squad. Exeter’s Crist Chiunza is expected to return from injury this month and his versatility should earn the 21-year-old a place in the team.
Even if Faletau makes the squad, Aaron Wainwright will play a crucial role in the Six Nations, either at blindside or as number eight after an excellent World Cup. A player who will be very hard to ignore is Ospreys number eight Morgan Morris.
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