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Wales Six Nations Squad 2018: Team To Face England Named

Work to do: Warren Gatland is hoping to improve on a fifth-place finish in last year's championship (Getty) Rugby World

With a raft of top players sidelined, the Wales squad has a younger and less experienced flavour to it. So it will be sink or swim for Warren Gatland's men in the Six Nations


Wales Six Nations Squad

Fate is not smiling on Welsh rugby, with no less than eight front-line players out of contention for the opening Six Nations match against Scotland on 3 February. The absent include a number of British & Irish Lions in half-backs Dan Biggar (shoulder) and Rhys Webb (knee), centre Jonathan Davies (foot) and flanker Sam Warburton (neck).

After a strong performance against Scotland, Gatland has named an unchanged side for the clash against England this weekend, although there is one big change on the bench with George North replacing Owen Watkin.

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Related: Wales vs Scotland Match Report 

UPDATED: Wales Team to play England in Six Nations – Saturday February 10th

Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, Williams, Parkes, S Evans; Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (captain), Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.

Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Francis, B Davies, Tipuric, A Davies, Anscombe, North

It will be a tough game against England, check out all Wales Six Nations Fixtures.

Related: Six Nations TV Coverage

Two more 2017 Lions, Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau, are likely to miss opening rounds with abdominal and leg injuries respectively, while lock Jake Ball (shoulder) will miss the whole tournament. Rhys Priestland, the expected back-up to Biggar, is out of the reckoning too with a hamstring injury.

Lethal in the loose: James Davies offloads during the Scarlets' Champions Cup win at Bath (Getty) Rugby World

One man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity and one or more of Rhys Patchell, Owen Williams and Gareth Anscombe, with 19 caps between them compared to Biggar’s 60, might now take centre stage in a way they couldn’t have imagined before last weekend’s Ospreys fixture.

On a positive note, any side led by Alun Wyn Jones will not go down lightly. The warrior will have trusted lieutenants around him in Justin Tipuric and Ken Owens, the latter part of a well-represented Scarlets side that has built on last year’s Guinness Pro12 title by qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.

The inclusion of uncapped Scarlets flanker James Davies is long overdue, although better late than never, while wing Josh Adams’s selection, after some free-scoring form in the English Premiership, is also reward for outstanding current form. Cardiff Blues’ Tomas Williams has since become a third uncapped player in the squad, being added after Webb’s setback.

Powerhouse: Josh Navidi breaks during Wales' defeat of South Africa in Cardiff in December (Getty Images) Rugby World

With the absence of Jonathan Davies, autumn debutants Hadleigh Parkes and 50-capper Scott Williams provide midfield options, and it seems Jamie Roberts’s distinguished international career may be over. The Harlequins centre, three appearances shy of 100 caps when you add in Lions Tests, has been tremendous in domestic rugby this season but cannot make the squad even with others unavailable.

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In part, that is a desire to plough on with the more liberal style of rugby that Wales adopted last year, and which saw them trouble Australia, New Zealand and South Africa last autumn, albeit that only one of those games was won.

Wales’ fourth autumn fixture, the turgid struggle against Georgia, highlighted deficiencies and, in what is expected to be a more keenly contested championship than usual, it’s difficult to say whether the Dragons will run teams ragged with glorious abandon or suffer one humiliation after another. With trips to Twickenham and Dublin in rounds two and three, an unexpected title success would have to be earned the hard way.

Walking wounded: Liam Williams is one of a plethora of injured players in the Welsh camp (Getty) Rugby World

Speaking of the two uncapped players named in the initial squad, Gatland said: “It’s an exciting opportunity for them. James’s form over the last couple of years has been impressive; he’s in a competitive area but we look forward to seeing what he can do. For Josh it’s a great opportunity; he’s been on great form and the back three is somewhere we are looking to create depth in.

“We have included a couple of players who are carrying injuries. It’s useful to have experienced guys around camp and to have them included and to work with them.”

Firepower: Josh Adams scores v London Irish – one of nine league tries by the Worcester wing this term Rugby World

The squad suggests the coaching staff have an eye on the 2019 World Cup, Gatland saying: “We have selected a larger squad and it’s an opportunity for us to work with a wider group and continue building for the next 18 months. It’s important to have a group of players who are used to the environment, know what is expected and are familiar with things, and that will really benefit us going forward.

“Last autumn was about exposing and developing players as part of the two-year countdown to the World Cup; the next couple of months are about testing those players in tournament rugby – we know how important the Six Nations is.”

Wales Six Nations Squad

Backs (19)
Aled Davies (Scarlets, 5 caps)
Gareth Davies (Scarlets, 27 caps)
Rhys Webb (Ospreys, 31 caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues, 11 caps)
Dan Biggar (Ospreys, 60 caps)
Rhys Patchell (Scarlets, 5 caps)
Rhys Priestland (Bath, 50 caps)
Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets, 1 cap)
Owen Watkin (Ospreys, 2 caps)
Owen Williams (Gloucester, 3 caps)
Scott Williams (Scarlets, 51 caps)
Josh Adams (Worcester, uncapped)
Hallam Amos (Dragons, 15 caps)
Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues, 47 caps)
Steff Evans (Scarlets, 5 caps)
Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets, 74 caps)
George North (Northampton, 69 caps)
Liam Williams (Saracens, 45 caps)
Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues, uncapped) *

Man at No 9: Scarlets' Gareth Davies is expected to start in the absence of Rhys Webb (Getty) Rugby World

Forwards (21)
Rob Evans (Scarlets, 20 caps)
Wyn Jones (Scarlets, 5 caps)
Nicky Smith (Ospreys, 16 caps)
Scott Baldwin (Ospreys, 34 caps)
Elliot Dee (Dragons, 2 caps)
Ken Owens (Scarlets, 52 caps)
Tomas Francis (Exeter, 26 caps)
Samson Lee (Scarlets, 34 caps)
Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues, 2 caps)
Adam Beard (Ospreys, 2 caps)
Bradley Davies (Ospreys, 57 caps)
Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues, 3 caps)
Cory Hill (Dragons, 10 caps)
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, captain, 113 caps)
James Davies (Scarlets, uncapped)
Taulupe Faletau (Bath, 70 caps)
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues, 5 caps)
Ross Moriarty (Gloucester, 17 caps)
Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues, 7 caps)
Aaron Shingler (Scarlets, 13 caps)
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, 52 caps)

* Added to the squad because of injuries

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