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Wales assistant Robin McBryde pleased with back-row options

Published 18/02/2016

Flanker Dan Lydiate looks set to be in the selection mix for Wales' RBS 6 Nations clash against France next week
Flanker Dan Lydiate looks set to be in the selection mix for Wales' RBS 6 Nations clash against France next week

Robin McBryde accepts that the composition of Wales' back-row remains a debate that is "not going to go away".

The opening two games of Wales' RBS 6 Nations campaign saw them start with specialist opensides Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric alongside number eight Taulupe Faletau.

The trio's fellow British and Irish Lions Test player Dan Lydiate appeared as a replacement during a draw against Ireland and victory over Scotland earlier this month, with many pundits believing that he could start when France arrive in Cardiff next week.

Lydiate lines up for the Ospreys against Guinness PRO12 opponents Edinburgh on Friday, and it could mean Wales boss Warren Gatland facing a selection headache when he contemplates his back-row combination to face Les Bleus.

"Everybody is well aware, and it has been heavily-documented about the make-up of the back-row, the issue is going to be raised," Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist McBryde said.

"That is not going to go away. We are happy with the way things have gone, and happy with the impacts of the replacements have given to a man when they have gone on. You could say that's been the difference in the two games.

"It's horses and courses, and different teams will play different styles.

"It's a case of measuring where we think we have to pick the best players for those games, and those decisions will be made based on the form of those players and the opposition.

"It is a great position to be in, and the healthy part is all the back-row are working together at the end of a training session. You see the whole back-row working together on extra skills such as handling or contact work.

"You need healthy competition, but also the ability to learn from each other. There is a genuine feeling that we are all in it for the team, and that comes before the individual."

Wales have released 13 players back to their regions for PRO12 action this weekend, while the likes of lock Luke Charteris and centre Jonathan Davies are with their French clubs Racing 92 and Clermont Auvergne, respectively.

Charteris will miss Racing's Top 14 appointment with Grenoble, though, because of what is understood to be knee bruising, and McBryde added: "Our medical team have been in regular contact with the medical team over at Racing.

"He will be reassessed when he comes back into us on Sunday. The 13 players released back to the regions, they will come back to us on Sunday.

"We've had 15 players in the right positions this week (for training), which has allowed us to do some team-based stuff. It becomes harder when players have got to play out of position in order to fulfil a team run.

"That was one of the reasons for a larger squad, initially, as well, to cater for that. The difficulty comes when players go back - they go back to different systems, different patterns with their clubs - so they have got to re-learn, and then obviously come back into us.

"That is where you rely on the players to be completely professional in their attitude and make sure they stay ahead of the game, really."

One player Wales will tap into ahead of the French clash is full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

Toulon star Halfpenny is currently with the squad, continuing his rehabilitation from a knee injury suffered last September that ruled him out of World Cup contention.

"He is good to have in the environment. He's very honest, very humble," McBryde said.

"The knowledge he can share among the squad with regards to the French mindset, that's invaluable.

"It's invaluable to how they perceive us over in France and what the challenges they think we have got and what we possess. In fairness to Leigh, he's with us sharing that knowledge.

"It's great to see him taking great strides in his rehab."

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