With an orphan workforce of many leaders, what can the Leek XV really hope for? Probably not much. From the group stage, the Welsh will have to be wary of Fiji and Georgia, who hope to accompany Australia in the quarter-finals. And even if they manage to extricate themselves from this group, the task promises to be difficult in the quarter-finals against England or Argentina, as Warren Gatland’s team does not seem dashing.
Given the multiple retirements and other injuries, Warren Gatland had to call on nine players who had never worn the Leek XV jersey in the expanded preparation group. An inexperience which contrasts with the experience of George North and Dan Biggar, both with more than 100 selections.
Form of the XV of Wales
Wales are in doubt. Illustrious captain Alun Wyn Jones (158 caps) decided to end his international career just before the start of preparation, as did third line Justin Tipuric and scrum half Rhys Webb. To these absences are added those of the titular hooker Ken Owens, injured, and the second line Cory Hill, in search of a new club for the next season. The Leek XV must therefore rebuild everything.
After being sought after Warren Gatland, who had raised the selection to the top of Europe in 2019, the Red Dragons must now find themselves leaders. During the last Six Nations Tournament, the level had already not been there, with a single victory against Italy and two slaps against Scotland and Ireland. Semi-finalists four years ago, the Welsh do not seem equipped to find the last four, as proved by the preparation matches (a defeat and a victory against England and a defeat against South Africa ).
Wales match schedule
The list of 33
Pillars : Corey Domachowski, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Nicky Smith, Gareth Thomas, Henry Thomas.
hookers : Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake.
Second lines : Adam Beard, Dafydd Jenkins, Will Rowlands, Christ Tshiunza.
Third lines : Taine Basham, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Jac Morgan, Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright.
Scrum half : Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams.
fly-half : Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Sam Costelow.
Centers: Mason Grady, George North, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams.
Wingers/backs: Josh Adams, Rio Dyer, Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams.
The XV type
A few names of well-known veterans (North, Felatau, etc.) but a team generally in the process of rebuilding which should not achieve the same World Cup as in 2019.
Player to watch: Liam Williams
The rear is one of the most experienced players in this XV of Wales, with 84 selections. Impressive in speed and still capable of performing a giant slalom in the middle of the opposing defence, the Cardiff player still scored two tries during the last Six Nations Tournament in as many games. In view of the carnage within the selection, Liam Williams will have an even more important role during this World Cup. It will be his third World Cup, after 2015 and 2019.