Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Warren Gatland calls on Wales players to make most of opportunity

Wales will face the Pumas in San Juan in the penultimate match of their summer tour.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made eight changes for the opening Test against Argentina. (David Davies/PA Images)
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made eight changes for the opening Test against Argentina. (David Davies/PA Images)

Wales coach Warren Gatland has challenged his players to lay down a marker for the 2019 World Cup squad by putting in an impressive display in the two-Test series against Argentina.

Cory Hill will captain Wales in the opening match against the Pumas in San Juan on Saturday, with Gatland having made eight changes from the team which beat South Africa in Washington.

George North will be back starting on the wing after playing at centre during the 22-20 victory over the Sprinboks at the RFK Stadium, before switching to his usual wide role following a knee injury to Steff Evans.

Worcester Warriors wing Josh Adams, who was called up as a replacement for Evans, goes straight into the team to face the Pumas.

In the second row, Adam Beard joins Hill, one of two co-captain on the tour and set to lead his country for the first time. Wyn Jones comes into the front row and James Davies will start at openside flanker.

Scarlets half-backs Gareth Davies and Rhys Patchell are named at nine and 10, while in the midfield, Hadleigh Parkes will partner Scott Williams, who is set to join the Ospreys this summer. Adams and Hallam Amos complete the back three alongside North.

Exeter prop Tomas Francis, brought in due to concerns over Samson Lee’s back injury, is among the replacements, along with the uncapped Aaron Wainwright.

“The changes in the team were planned, I always said to the players on this tour everyone would get an opportunity, whether that’s starting or on the bench, and we want to find out about some players as well, so we have made the changes for this game,” Gatland said in an interview with WRU TV.

“We wanted to keep some continuity and a couple of players who did pretty well last week against South Africa, they get a chance to back up, and then other players are coming in, again looking at some combinations.

“We want to go well against Argentina and also win on Saturday, then hopefully go back home with three (wins) from three, that would be brilliant for this group of young players.”

The likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Biggar, Justin Tipuric and Ken Owens had all been rested for the summer tour.

“There’s a little bit of pressure on,” Gatland added. “We have talked a lot about how important the next 12 months is building up to the World Cup, so every player is pretty aware about making the most of opportunities.

“There are going to be definitely some tight calls going forwards.”

Cory Hill will captain Wales for the first time in the opening Test against Argentina. (Paul Harding/PA Images)

Gatland is confident Hill will rise to the challenge of captaining Wales for the first time at the Estadio del Bicentenario.

“It’s a great opportunity for Cory. He is our senior tight-five forward at the moment, and we are looking forward to seeing him lead the team this week after Ellis Jenkins did a great job last week,” he said.

Wales finish their summer tour with another showdown against the Pumas at the Estadio Brigadier Lopez in Santa Fe on June 16.

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph