Wales team to play South Africa


Warren Gatland has named his side to take on South Africa at the Millennium Stadium this weekend.

Eli Walker makes his debut on the wing, with Dan Lydiate and Rhys Priestland returning to the side after their injury-enforced absence.

What do you make of this team? Can they beat the Springboks?

15. Leigh Halfpenny (Blues)
14. George North (Northampton Saints)
13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
12. Scott Williams (Scarlets)
11. Eli Walker (Ospreys)
10. Rhys Priestland (Scarlets)
9. Mike Phillips (Unattached)

1. Gethin Jenkins (Blues)
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys)
3. Adam Jones (Ospreys)
4. Bradley Davies (Blues)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)
6. Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro)
7. Sam Warburton (Blues, Capt)
8. Toby Faletau

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath), Scott Andrews (Blues), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) Lloyd Williams (Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

51 thoughts on “Wales team to play South Africa

  1. Is Ian Evans injured or dropped?

    Not surprises really. Would like to have seen Gatland drop Phillips after what he’s been up to, but it was never going to happen. Aside from him misdemeanors, has he actually player well at all in 2013? (apart from the England 6N game obviously).

    Wales have a few really good 9s coming through – if I was Welsh I would want them to be given a shot. Since I’m English, carry on with Phillips all you want!

  2. Ian Evans is injured, I can take Phillips, I can take Walker but Bradley Davies the discipline liability over Charteris, facing bakkies?… that’s just not right.

      1. I wouldn’t say not a fan of walker, but Liam Williams is fearless under the high ball and brave in tackles, of which I’m sure we will receive plenty. walker is great going forward and up at full speed but will he get the chance? I doubt it. In short I think we’d be better off playing two full backs against SA

  3. Selection does not matter given that Roland the Rat will be ref.

    First time the Rat has ref’d Wales since the RWC Semi in 2011.

    Quite frankly he should never be allowed near the Welsh Under-10 tiddlewinks team given his record.

    1. He actually ref’d the Wales v Babarians game in 2012 (nuggets 100th cap). Quite predictably he was almost booed off the pitch.

    2. Really? Really?

      The call was 50:50. By the law book it was a red – but very harsh when intent and circumstance are taken into account. I think it’s time you moved on…

    3. Oh christ, leave it out please. We’re even moaning about the ref BEFORE the match now. Let’s not get all England-like here and claim that with Steve Walsh in charge we’re doomed before we start.

      1. It’s worse than that Brighty, Gatland has said he’s refusing to attend the briefing with him. Let it go Warren! Adam Jones’ calf had as much (if not more) bearing on that game than the red card.

        1. Matt, I am bemused by those reports. Is it perhaps overblown by the media e.g. Gatland has decided “no point” and that has come up as “refused”? The choice of language is important here – did the ref ask to see Gatland and then he “refused” or did Gatland simply not put in the usual request to see the ref before the match?

          For one I doubt that if Rolland really did want to see Gatland it’s not actually in Gats’ power to “refuse”? Media generated storm on a teacup is my best guess here.

          I do worry though that it might wind Rolland up? But perhaps teams coming to him and nagging about the other team actually winds him up more and Gats knows what he is doing?

      2. I didn’t say the call was incorrect, I merely pointed out that this isn’t the first game he’s ref’d since 2011. Also, given Welsh tendency for extreme over-reaction I again pointed out that the fact he was almost booed off the pitch wasn’t a complete surprise to me.

        Furthermore I would say there is a 99.9999% chance he’ll get booed again on Saturday, sadly.

        1. This game must be the short straw for an international ref, spring bok fans are probably the world’s worse ref abusers, the Welsh shading the English for second spot (we are more whingers than abusers).

          1. Can’t agree with that sweeping generalisation at all. Always will be a few bad apples but can’t work out where this idea that as a majority we’re pretty focussed on abusing the ref. A few of my mates are rugby refs and I rarely abuse them.

        2. I don’t recall him being booed off the pitch. I remember some pantomime villain boos and chuckles before we then got back to watching the match. I’ll be at the match on Sat, I will be genuinely amazed if there is anything more than some laughing and booing when his name is read out. Not saying we won’t boo bad decisions mind, but we’d do that with anyone.

          1. I shall be there and I shall not boo, Rolland had a good game last weekend in scarlets v ulster, my faith is restored

        3. Well its the first ‘meaningful’ game the Rat has been given with Wales since RWC 2011-
          has not ref’d them in the Six Nations 2012 or 2013.

          If Roland gets abuse it is all he deserves. His passing into retirement at the Dublin Home for blind Irish Refs will be cheered across the length and breadth of Wales.

          His awful decision wrecked the semi final and Wales’s best chance of ever appearing in a RWC Final. I mean Warburton does not even get yellow cards!

          What would be the reaction if Chris Robshaw was sent off in similar circumstances and England were knocked out a RWC 2015?

          We’d never hear the end of it. The BBC and John Inverdale
          et a lwould see to that.

  4. Wales pack in the last AIs – James, Rees, Jarvis, B. Davies, Charteris, R. Jones, Warburton, Faletau.

    So some reasons for confidence in these AIs – better in every row of the scrum.

    Shocked that Biggar is not even in the 22, double shocked that his obvious replacement is Hook. Hard to say if I’m pleased – seen Hook deliver too many shockers to assume he’ll be at his mercurial best.

    Mike does, and even I hate saying this, turn up for the big games. Our backline looks excellent, the backrow is world class. The front row is ideal for a game like this. Priestland is hopefully back to form, some great bench options. It’s now or never as this is close to the best team we could pick – Scott Williams in for Doc R isn’t too bad an option. Shame Cuthbert is injured but that’s the only real downside of this team.

  5. I am astounded that Rhys Priestland has been given the nod. This is the man who, with a minute to play and with Wales in the lead in December 2012, could not see that if his team drove half-a-dozen rucks, he could then simply kick the ball off the field and win the game. Instead, he booted it upfield to the Australians, who promptly said, ‘Thank you very much’ and scored in the corner to win the match. We need a fly-half with a brain.

    1. Yes and they say the forwards have no brains!. When the British Lions were here in South Africa in 2009 Ogara had ball in dead ball area right on final whistle. What did he do, he kicked ball up to half way line where Morne Steyne was promptly tackled in the air. 55 m penalty successful. All over and cost Lions series! For this game , Wales will for sure come out firing however I think Boks will be to strong, although I do worry about some of the Boks being a bit knackered as at end of a long season. Either way a great game in prospect.

      1. Although it’s a long season has Meyer been pretty smart with his squad rotation? There always seems to be a couple of adjustments in the pack.

        1. Yes i think he may have been smart, however I watched the Boks front row playing for
          sharks , against Western Province(in Currie Cup) the week after the All Blacks game at Ellis Park and a very young WP front row took the sharks front row apart and The Beast , plus bothth Ddu plessis brothers looked fatigued to say the least. Ok they turned up in the final, Hhowever I think that the Welsh front row will give the Boks a hard time!

          1. I hope you’re right Bill. Adam and Gethin coped very well with the Beast back in 2009 on that amazing Lios tour.

      2. Very similar last minute madness, although O’Gara was looking pretty groggy. Even that does not excuse going out of his way to lose a match and the series it would have been easier to draw. Priestland managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory without a head injury!

        1. Anyway guys lets hope for great game. Halfpenny and his wingers will get plenty
          of catching practice so Wales will get plenty time to counter attack. Lets not
          turn the game into a kicking duel. The Boks team looks very strong on paper and
          Wales will need to play well and take their chances to win, however i think if they
          can get some good go forward and “think out of the box” they have a chance. For
          myself (a Scot)in South Africa i am not to concerned as long as great and exciting game.

  6. Alain Roland is a c……..k he should not be allowed to ref Wales again. The team pretty much picks itself. Good luck to Eli Walker hope he has a good game. If we get on the front foot in the scrum we could do well. Not too sure about priestland

    1. Ah, ok, I see where this idea that we’re ref abusers might have come from now :-) However, I stand by the idea that making a sweeping generalisation (e.g. “world’s worse ref abusers, the Welsh shading the English for second spot”) is a bit off. Next you’ll be making out we’re all working class miners while the English are all land owning toffs.

      1. Brigthty, comment was only intended as banter (hence the deprecation of the English as well) any offence taken is not intentional.

  7. I feel a bit for Andrew Coombs too, unless he’s injured which I haven’t picked up on?

    Would we say Bradley/Luke are in better form at the moment?

  8. FAO Dave well it could be worse we could still be ref’d by the likes of Fred Howard or Roger Tw+tterton.
    You are quite right about Priestland-what on earth do the coaches see in him?

  9. That looks like a damn good team and not a bad bench either! I prefer Tipuric to Warburton but against the Boks, Warburton is probably the better choice

    Not many weak links though. If Phillips puts on a big game performance and Priestland holds it together, I can see a Welsh victory.

    Be interested to see how Walker goes and if Liam Williams gets a chance to come on

  10. Only way Wales win here is if they can smash the Bok forwards for 82 minutes. Anything else and they lose by the usual 1-7 point margin.

    When you have only ever beaten the Boks once in 100+ years the ref is of no consequence. It’s then your own mindset you need to concentrate on.

    Gatland needs to take some of the philosophical musings of Meyer to heart if he wants to get this Welsh team in the right frame of mind.

  11. This is definitely the game I’m most looking forward to this weekend (Despite being English). I’m fed up with this Wales team being so bloody good and so bloody talented and yet still managing to lose in the last couple of minutes of every game against the SH. This should be a golden age of Welsh rugby, dammit.

  12. 3 Grand Slams since 2005 plus the Six Nations last year is still a Golden Age when you have a population of barely 3 million people.

      1. I agree with Lukov. Kings if Europe is good and more than I could have dreamt of a decade ago but we need more now if we are really going to be able to call this team great.

  13. couldn’t agree more McMurphy. can’t see us winning this one though. It’s a good XV but playing the boks first up is suicide – we always start autumn rusty and get better gradually. last year we left it till the end of the 6 nations to hit form.

  14. Enoch, but this is it, it’s a very good age of Welsh rugby, and that’s been running in parallel with the best Irish side in a long time, and a pretty decent French and England team (arguably both underachievers, but both still tough). 4 Grand Slams, and yet not a single victory over the tri-nations since… 2008, is it? I don’t want to minimize the achievement, but but with NZ (pop. 4 million) sweeping all before them, I can’t call this golden. Silver, just now.

    I look at the Welsh team, and there’s so many good players. And depth in most of the positions. And it’s not just about talent – in the 90s and right through to the 2000s, this was a Welsh team that could be bullied, physically. This is absolutely not the case now. They are big strong and skilled.

    This is the time – this autumn. I really think that if Wales don’t get over the hump this autumn I can’t see them doing any better than the quarters.

    Wales have the best tighthead in the world, a front 5 that should be able to at least cope with the Boks up front, their first choice back row, 2 of the best back 3 around, strong midfield… my question mark over the Welsh team recently has been mental – I do think that the half-backs have questionable decision making, and the cumulative effect of being beaten by the SH sides must have some effect.

    I don’t think there’s a side in the World, NZ included, that could have lived with Wales playing like they did against England. But if that’s the summit of their ambitions, I’m disappointed.

    As a Bristolian, I love England beating wales, but I want quality to out.

    It’ll just make it sweeter when England pull level and then start beating Wales again. ;)

    1. McMurphy, I have watched Wales since I was a boy in the 1970s and since the late 1980s have seen Welsh teams lose to Romania, Samoa, Italy, Canada, Bridgend RFC and the Baltic under 11 select 15 so I am more than happy to take the trophies won since 2005.

      Having seem England put 30- 40+ points on Wales in Cardiff and 50-60 at Twickenham as in the late 90s and early 2000s I am more than happy to see Wales where they have been in the last c8 years. As my favourite US President said as he resigned from his office

      ‘Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.’

      And yes Wales have not scaled the mountain that is NZ or the Boks but neither have Ireland or Scotland and as nations with similar resources to Wales then we have done far far better.

      England have a population 20 times that of Wales and also have all the former colonies that England picks so many of its rugby (and cricket) players from and even then England has not won the Grand Slam since their World beating year of 2003. Beating NZ in an Autumn friendly is no good when you lose Grand Slam deciders in 2011 and 2013 to Ireland and Wales.

      1. You are missing Fiji and Japan in your list ….

        I’m in agreement with McMurphy, not suggesting that Wales are ‘under achieving’ by any means, just that with such a good group of world class players (and an excellent national coaching set up) they may have the potential to become a top 2 side in the world. You seem to be taking this as some sort of slight or insult, it’s not. It’s admiration and a little bit of envy!

        But now really is the time to kick on if Wales are to be one of the favourites for 2015. There’s nothing to prove against NH competition, there’s the confidence of taking a SH scalp in a Welsh dominated Lions series, now is the time for the next step.

        If you want to use the population argument, Samoa is <200K people (they really are punching above their weight)

        1. The Fiji defeat in RWC 2007 was a Godsend for all Welsh rugby fans as it meant that
          Wales then sacked Gareth Jenkins as coach. He was sacked by WRU staff in the team hotel car park around breakfast time the day after Fiji put Wales out of RWC 2007. Classic!
          We then had Warren Gatland who with the same group of players delivered the 2008 Grand Slam a few months later.
          Japan was a joke literally sending boys to play against men. Still the WRU always guarantees
          to screw up at least once a season.

      2. Yes Enoch, i remember the British Lions of the 1971/2 era when we smashed the All Blacks .Lots of Welsh in that team.I think we may be getting close to these days! I think Wales deserve that! Good luck on Sat!

  15. Fascinating game. Had it been 2012 I may have backed Wales a bit more, but this year SA have moved away from those behind them in the world rankings and nearer the ABs.

    Halfpenny, jones, awj, faletau and north are all extremely talented world class players. However, louw, Alberts and vermulen are a wonderful back row, second only to NZ. Warburton and lydiate, whilst undeniably talented, get over praised by the media in my opinion – they need to step up!

    SA also have the worlds best 12, JDV, who has been magic this season. Surprised le roux omitted, I think he’s been the top performing wing with Ben smith this season

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