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Six Nations Preview: Wales

Wales Preview
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Shôn Douglas previews the 2020 Guinness Six Nations Championship for Sport Talk. We Love Sport have teamed up with tournament sponsors Guinness to bring you complimentary pints during the championship – to redeem simply download the We Love Sport app.

WALES

In 2019 Wales were crowned Grand Slam champions for the first time since 2012, securing the title against a lackluster Ireland in Cardiff on the final day of the competition.

That was to be the last Six Nations of Warren Gatland’s reign and he will surely go down as one of the most successful coaches in the tournament’s history and a Welsh Rugby legend to boot. But what next for the Welsh?

Considering some of the questionable performances and narrow margins of victory accumulated along the way, the Rugby World Cup will have been considered a success for the Welsh, losing to eventual World Cup winners South Africa in the semi-final. However, Wales are entering a new era and the future is anything but certain.

New boys on the block

New head coach Wayne Pivac took over from his fellow Kiwi in November and knows he has big boots to fill, but he has carved himself a reputation as a winner in his time with Scarlets. He led the Llanelli based side to the Pro12 title in 2017 and came runners up to Leinster in 2018, with an impressive style of play earning plaudits and admirers in the WRU.

His first Six Nations squad selection is boosted by the return of Taulupe Faletau from injury and scrum half Rhys Webb, who is returning to Ospreys after a spell at Toulon. Having two seasoned campaigners back in the fold can only be a good thing for a squad lacking in depth but with a huge amount of experience.

Five uncapped players have been selected, including this season’s Premiership Rugby breakthrough Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit, show a willingness to experiment that maybe wasn’t there under Gatland. Stealing Saracens centre Nick Tompkins from under the nose of Eddie Jones is a coup too, not least because of injuries sustained to other midfield options, but the form of the 24 year old gives reasons to be cheerful too.

Cardiff Blues wing Josh Adams finished the World Cup in Japan as top try scorer with seven tries and has carried that form into the 2019/20 season with his club, scoring five so far including a hat trick on his debut against Pau. If he can maintain that form into the Six Nations he will be a sure fire pick for most fantasy team managers!Win Six Nations Tickets

Summary:

Three home games is always a bonus for the Welsh, with the partisan Cardiff crowd cheering them on against Italy, France and Scotland – but difficult trips to Dublin and Twickenham will be a real test for Pivac’s men.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones has warned of a “bumpy road” ahead, but don’t be surprised if that isn’t the start of mind games before the tournament kicks off. Wales always thrive on the underdog status and with bookies having them behind both England and Ireland, that will suit them to the ground. Beating England on their home turf will be a big ask for the Welsh and the outcome of that game could well determine the outright winner.

Wales Rugby Key Stats

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