RBS 6 Nations 2011: Wales team to play Scotland

Warren Gatland has made some necessary changes to his side to take on Scotland this weekend.

James Hook starts at fly-half with Stephen Jones dropping to the bench, in a move that Gatland hopes will provide some creativity for his backline.

Morgan Stoddart recovers from a broken hand (miraculously!) and Jon Davies escapes any citing for his trip on Chris Ashton.

Lee Byrne
Morgan Stoddart
Jamie Roberts
Jon Davies
Shane Williams
James Hook
Mike Phillips

Paul James
Matthew Rees (capt)
Craig Mitchell
Bradley Davies
Alun Wyn Jones
Dan Lydiate
Sam Warburton
Ryan Jones

Replacements: R Hibbard, J Yapp, J Thomas, J Turnbull, T Knoyle, S Jones, R Priestland.

17 thoughts on “RBS 6 Nations 2011: Wales team to play Scotland

  1. That said, Hook is a much more exciting player, and one that will create opportunities as opposed to waiting for someone else to.

  2. This does seem harsh on Jones, who doesn’t really deserve to be the only player to lose his place (apart from Powell, who is injured). But then if you’re going to move Hook forward, would you want to drop Jon Davies who was Wales’ best player, or Jamie Roberts?

    Interesting to see how Byrne gets on at full-back.

  3. Although I think it’s harsh on Jones, I also think its a good move as Hook is much more of a play maker than Jones. However, if he is given crap ball by a crap 9 all day (Phillips) then there’s is no point in the switch at all. I’d have personally dropped Phillips and had Peel start. On that note i’d also drop Byrne and have Priestland start.

  4. Think it’s a positive move from Gatland but his selection still baffles somewhat. He’s talked about moving Roberts to the wing if Stoddart doesn’t make it. Surely you want to keep your strongest units together – there must be another winger out there without playing a world class player out of position.

    Tough on Jones but am a huge fan of Hook. As a defence you’re far more worried playing him than Jones. And if he makes the odd mistake, well, that’s because he tries things and that will happen. He should be given the rest of the championship there to make his mark.

  5. A positive move, but I think it shows how worried Gatland is about Scotland. Jones didn’t have a good game, no, but a lot of that was down to the service from Phillips, and a lot of the service from Phillips was down to the quality of ball from the Welsh forwards. For the tight games – as Scotland will be – you’d want your proven playmaker to control the game when under pressure.

    Still, I don’t think it’s a bad move as Wales have to change something to spark themselves into a good performance. There were suggestions Jones is injured but I think that’s just an attempt to lessen the effects of the decision.

    Big game for Ryan Jones to prove himself after his Fiji fall from grace, both as a leader and a player.

  6. Harshest on Peel, I’d say. Dropping out of the 22 all together, when Phillips is playing so poorly. You have to wonder what Peel needs to do to get Gatland to give him a shot.

  7. And, yes, Rory – Roberts made his first start against Scotland in 2009 on the wing. But accepted opinion is that he hasn’t quite got the pace for wing and is better suited at inside centre.

  8. Rory – Roberts started out as a wing who could cover full back funnily enough. It was only after a couple of years that the Welsh management saw his potential at centre and began playing him there, and then Cardiff followed suit soon after. Several successful matches later he then become a full convert to centre and regularly switched between 12 and 13. Following the trend of playing big ball-carrying inside centres, the Lions coaches saw the value in playing Roberts there and we all know what a great tour he had – was he even the Lions player of the tour?

    It’s just as well he moved really, I always felt he was rather average on the wing..

  9. Hook at 10 is ridiculous. S. Jones is the most consistent 10 in Wales and a trip to Murrayfield is not the time to start experimenting. To those who want Peel to start instead of Phillips at 9 I say you had obviously switched off by the time that change was made on Friday he was caught in posession every time and apart from a run of bad passes before his substitution I though Phillips played well.

    We should have dropped Roberts, and played Hook in the centre with Jon Davies. Roberts had a quiet game on Friday and after a long injury lay off needs more regional game time before playing at the top level again. Byrne at full back is a certainty – just dont give him any penalties to find touch with!!!!!!

  10. playing james hook at fly half could be the right choice, jonns has not been playing up to standard lately and hooks pace and awearness will create more space for the centers to run through, i would still play phillips at scrum half cause one bad game doesnt mean he is rubbish, but b.davies was the best player on the welsh team against england, always over the gain line, we just needed runners to support, maybe switch roberts to inside and then j.davies on the outside.

  11. I agree with elliot – I would prefer Roberts at 12 and JD at 13. Davies is quicker than Roberts, especially in terms of initial acceleration – and thus better suited to making outside breakers (as he did when he rounded Hape to put Stoddart over on Friday).

    As regards Hook’s selection, I think it was the right call. Stephen didn’t have a great game on Friday, but I think there are other issues at stake here too, which I’ll summarize in three main points:

    1) He’s going to be 34 this year – he is undoubtedly not at the top of his game and approaching the end of his career.
    2) People laud his game control and tactical superiority over Hook – but I would contend that we have seen very little evidence of those supposed traits at International level in the past year. He’s not been able to effectively steer us around the park consistently and help the forwards build a platform for a very long time, despite playing behind a pack which produces a hell of a lot of ball. Furthermore, when we’ve obviously been on the backfoot against teams, or failing to break them down, he’s not really shown any ability to vary his tactics, or to adapt the game plan. This is not solely his responsibility, but he is often talked of a 10 that does this…
    3) His best years for Wales (2005 and 2008) have tended to come when he’s had a ball-handling playmaker outside him – invariably Gavin Henson – who takes over a significant part of the 10’s responsibility by getting the backline going. (Arguably, you could apply the same assessment to his non-Wales career – as many of his better performances at the Scarlets stem from his interplay with the footballing Regan King.) At there simply isn’t an option which fits this description (as it seems highly unlikely that Wales will employ Hook at 12.)

    On a separate note, Peel hasn’t been dropped from the bench – he picked up a hip injury in training.

  12. JohnE – Cheers for the info. Didn’t realise Peel had picked up an injury.

    On the subject of half-backs, did anyone see Matthew Morgan’s break to set up the try against England U20s on Saturday? Wow. It’s like having Shane Williams at fly-half. He’ll need a big 12 outside him to do some of his tackling but, what a talent!

  13. I can see why Gatland wanted to move Hook to 10, you need to try some new things and experiment with the world cup coming up and the tough games in the 6 nations against France and Ireland coming. Especially so against lesser teams. I personally would move Roberts to 12 and J.Davis to 13. On the Lions tour Roberts played top rugby at 12, and he’s played better and more often at 12 than 13, for both club and country. And I feel J.Davis has that edge on pace.

  14. Whwere the hell is dwayne peel? Phillips was crap all game and now peel’s not even named in the squad!? There must be more to this?

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