Monday, January 19, 2015

Eight Players for Warren to Consider

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On Tuesday Warren Gatland names his squad for the Six Nations and most would expect the usual names and faces to be involved. However, with injuries ravaging the Ospreys and Scarlets, some Pro 12 players have taken their opportunities to hit a rich vein of form.

So, where could Gatland look for inspiration away from the usual suspects? Here are eight Wales based players that Gatland should be considering.

Josh Navidi
What a star Navidi has been for the Blues this season. Able to fill any of the backrow positions with little fuss, Navidi must join Scott Williams as the most in form regional players. Navidi has rarely failed to make metres with ball hand; such devastation has not been reeked by a dreadlocked beast since Predator 2. With Dan Baker missing, Wales don't have huge depth in ball carrying number 8s and Navidi may go in as Faletau's deputy. The prospect must be an exciting one for Navidi considering the similar manner in which Faletau earned his spot so close to the World Cup four years ago.

Ashley Beck
Centre Ashley Beck missed the start of the season through injury, but has continually improved since returning to the field and is once again integral to the Ospreys' backs division. It's a claim that is even more impressive when you consider just how good the Ospreys look behind the scrum.
Beck will, however, face perhaps the stiffest competition for places. Jamie Roberts proved his worth to Wales in the autumn, while Jonathan Davies proved how much Gatland thinks of him with his controversial inclusion of the third Lions test against Australia. Aside from the starting Wales duo, Beck will have to fight off the challenge of Scott Williams. Williams has been in fine fettle for the Scarlets and is arguably THE in form centre of any Six Nations country. He has also cemented himself into Welsh rugby history with that try at "Twickers."
It's probably too soon for Dragons' Tyler Morgan but his signing of a dual contract shows the regard in which he is held and Blues' Cory Allen has proven himself more than capable when called upon.

Phil Price
This season Phil Price has been an inspiration. His performances landed him Rob Howley's "Possibles" squad in the summer, but this season the prop has pushed those performances a step further to an astounding level. Whilst Price is solid at the scrum, his displays around the park have been Gethin Jenkins-esque with over 60 tackles made in three Welsh derby games over Christmas and New Year.

Elliot Dee
Before this season, Dee was best known for his Haka performance at the Junior World Championships, but soon that could all change. Dee has stepped out to the plate for the Dragons and shown he has the vital skills for a hooker; namely scrummaging and throwing. However, Dee possesses more than that with his excellent ball carrying and sheer determination. He has received extra coaching from Kingsley Jones and may have it in him to hold off Kristian Dacey and fill the slots left by the injuries to Ken Owen and Emyr Phillips.
Hallam Amos
Another young Dragon who has signed a dual contract. He and Tyler Morgan put Newcastle to the sword in the European Challenge Cup this weekend. Wales have lacked a little depth on the wings of late, with Liam Williams being played out of position as cover for George North and Alex Cuthbert. However, Amos' stock is rising rapidly and scoring two and providing the assist for captain Rynard Landman against the Newcastle would have done him no harm.

Adam Jones
Ok, maybe it's a bit cheeky to not consider Adam Jones as a regular, but he was omitted from the Autumn Internationals for Samson Lee and Rhodri Jones. This time around both are injured and face a race against time to be fit for the England game on 6th February, but whether they make it or not Adam Jones should be returned to the squad.
His move to the Blues, coupled with not making the Wales squad has given him the size 9 up the proverbial he needed and he has answered the call. If fit Samson Lee should start, but to have the ability and experience of Adam Jones on the bench could be invaluable.
If not he could always play 10.

Rob Evans
Evans was looking good for a place in Gatland's squad before Friday night; now, if he isn't included, there should be an inquest. Evans was the stand out performance of an injury ravaged Scarlets outfit against very hungry Tigers. In conjunction with Samson Lee, Evans has given front rows hell this season when it comes to the set piece. On Friday Evans showed he is more than a one trick pony with a cacophony of tricks he pulled from up his sleeve. Offloading, one handed passes, incredible catches and a try that is the prop's equivalent of a thirty yard run-in.

Dan Evans
It was only a little over a year ago Leigh Halfpenny narrowly missed out on World Player of the Year and won BBC Welsh Sports Personality of the Year. He was Player of the Series on the Lions tour, but some now have him third in line for the Wales 15 jersey.
That's mostly due to the outstanding form of Liam Williams and Dan Evans. Williams has forced his way into the Wales setup, but now Evans has put himself on the radar with his performances. His counter attacking and positioning makes Evans hot property and his stats are arguably the best for a fullback in the Northern Hemisphere. His transition into the Ospreys from the Dragons has been a huge success and though he says he isn't thinking about it, he must be a hoping that he gets a shot before the World Cup.

Will any of them make the cut into Gatland's initial Six Nations squad? They'll find out on Tuesday if Warren calls or just leaves them hanging on the telephone.

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