Wales coach Warren Gatland has announced the Wales team to face France in Cardiff tomorrow (Friday) evening a day early. He has made three changes from the team who defeated Scotland on Saturday February 13, with one of his changes being to bring winger Alex Cuthbert back into the starting fifteen. I have to say, I am surprised by this decision as Cuthbert’s form of late has been woeful, but there is no doubt that Gatland is a fan of the big winger.
The other non-enforced change is to bring Dan Lydiate back in as blind side flanker, with captain Sam Warburton moving back to his preferred position of open side flanker. I think most pundits agree that playing Warburton at blind side and having Justin Tipuric at open side in our opening two games of this year’s 6 Nations has not really worked. Being at blind side, Warburton has been slower to the breakdown than he normally is, and as a consequence Wales have not been able to turnover possession as much as they usually do. We have also, in my opinion, missed Lydiate’s chop-tackling. But, there is no doubt that it is nice to have the flexibility of either playing Warburton with Lydiate or pairing him with Tipuric, and Gatland would argue that he sets the balance of the back row depending on who the opposition is.
The third and final change is enforced by injury to Luke Charteris, so Bradley Davies comes in to replace him in the second row.
Wales go into their third game of the 2016 6 Nations undefeated, with a draw away from home against Ireland in their opening match, and a win over Scotland at home in the second round. France, however, have two wins from two, with wins over Italy and Ireland. In my opinion, France have not looked very impressive in either of these two wins, and Wales have a good chance I think of racking up their fifth win in a row over them.
The other matches this weekend are both on Saturday, Italy v Scotland followed by England v Ireland. Ireland’s chances of retaining the 6 Nations title are all but dead after their defeat against France, whereas England (like France) are two wins from two. Should Wales and England both win this weekend then it will be certainly be game-on for our clash with England; the clash between the two at Twickenham on March 12 could be the title decider. So, here’s hoping that Ireland defeat England and do us a favour this weekend!
The full 23-man squad to face France is below.