Warrens announced his options for the coming months, not much new here. Although it was a fairly good weekend for the Welsh sides in the Heineken Cup, I can’t see there being any real change in fortune for the side in this years tournament. The only shining light I see coming through is the Scarlet’s Jonathan Davies. He is a genuine linebreaker but whether this can translate up a level to the Six Nations has yet to be seen. Apart from him it seems to be business as usual.
The problem for me seems to be with the back row, I just think it needs something new. Martyn Williams is and has been a fantastic player for Wales and I wouldn’t for a moment suggest his exclusion, it seems he is not making the impact on games he once did. As for the other two likely starters they too lack the intensity and influence that can be found in the opposition. Both have shown in the past they have the ability but never season through season. Powell particularly seems never to have regained the form of his breakthrough season. Looking around the other sides in the championship it hard to see him getting a berth even in the Italian squad.
Its a similar problem upfront. Gethin Jenkins is undoubtedly world class, his defence is pioneering for his position. Its the guys next to him that give the problems. Its also a good example of Gatlands tired selection, surely there was room in the squad for Ken Owens? He has put in some great performances for the Scarlets this season, Matthew Rees, just back from injury, lacking in match fitness and ultimately boring. He can’t throw in either. At tighthead its good to see Lewis-Roberts being given a chance, I just hope that Gatland is not too dull to select him.
Behind the pack its the same story. Gareth Cooper has earned his place through familiarity alone. His clubmate deserves his call up and deserves to start against England but all noises suggest he won’t. Stephen Jones has been at best reliable, even if his kicking hasn’t been. Jonathan Davies deserves his chance outside of him but more likely he will go with the off form Roberts. Lee Byrne back at full back, and Shane Williams too is not bad news but neither will have had a lot of game time come February 6th. I think the one change he will be forced into is giving Kristian Phillips a go on the left wing. He has had some electric displays in the Principality League, I fear he will suffer the same fate as Halfpenny though, starved of ball as the backline makes every effort to get his colleague on the other side of the field the ball.
bet365 have England as slight favourites for the opener, if Warren sticks to his plan I’d say it was a fairly safe bet.