Key Clash Preview: Wales v Barbarians

Date: 2nd June 2012
Kickoff: 14:00
Referee: Alain Rolland
Venue: Millennium Stadium

Wales:

Whilst England last week opted for a side more commonly associated with their first team, Wales have taken the opportunity against the Barbarians this weekend to put out a team which is a mix of young exciting talent, some returning stars and one man on the brink of a century. Liam Williams and Harry Robinson are two very bright prospects in the back three, whilst Dan Biggar wins a first start since before last year’s Rugby World Cup after an impressive season. The great Martyn Williams will appear from the bench.

Barbarians:

All the attention will be on the great Shane Williams, but there is plenty of talent in this Barbarians squad that despite getting hammered at Twickenham pulled off a victory in midweek at Kingsholm. Various tweeted photographs and messages have indicated that this has been one of most enjoyable Barbarians tours in recent history. The talent of Mamuka Gorgodze and Francois Louw in the back row is enough to unsettle any international side.

What to Expect:

Hopefully a fixture as entertaining as last year’s. The 2011 clash was all about the return of Gavin Henson but it was Isa Nacewa that stole the show, Leinster’s talisman scoring two tries in a famous Barbarians victory. The Welsh defence gave away little in the Six Nations but none of the team that started in the backline this spring are present. In a game of uncertain defensive systems, whoever adapts quickest will win.

Head to Head: Harry Robinson & Shane Williams

One of the brightest talents coming through on the Welsh wings – more in the mould of Williams then Cuthbert – Robinson has benefited from his Sevens experience and whilst still only 19 years of age, has a lot to offer.

He will be up against a man who Robinson has admitted he tries to emulate on the field. Shane Williams appears to be rather enjoying his rugby swansong, with tries on his final performances for both Wales and the Ospreys, the latter resulting in a second RaboDirect Pro12 titles. Now, he will run out in the Millennium Stadium for the last ever as a professional for the invitational side that has seen many legends wear their colours, but perhaps none so greatly loved. No one would begrudge him one final try.

Ones to Watch: Justin Tipuric & Mamuka Gorgodze

A key part of the successful Ospreys side this season, Tipuric truly is a menace at the breakdown, developing rapidly into a genuine contender for Sam Warburton’s shirt. Gorgodze on the other hand is well established as the focal point for not just the Georgian national side but also for his club Montpellier. A real physical beast of a player, look out for him in the one on one collisions.

Prediction:

Outstanding at times during their match with Ireland in mid-week, the Barbarians are at the end of a hectic week and so the limbs might be a bit weary. As for Wales, with plenty of youngsters chomping at the bit for selection and others trying to prove themselves, they should start their summer with a win. In all honesty however, today is all about the two Williams – Martyn and Shane. Wales by 13

by Ben Coles