Rugby

Gatland seeking 'expansive' 10 and 12 combination

2017-11-01 12:52
Warren Gatland (Getty)

Cape Town - Wales coach Warren Gatland plans to find a play-making flyhalf and inside centre combination during the upcoming internationals. 

The British and Irish Lions boss has been criticised for selecting a predictable, crash-ball option at 12 for Wales in the past, such as veteran centre Jamie Roberts. 

Gatland now thinks he has options to implement a more expansive style. 

"I have had a chat with [backs coach] Rob Howley about the 10/12 combination and what that's likely to be," he told the BBC. 

"I am hoping we have the type of player. 

"You have to have that person who can play with the speed of ball. I don't think we have always had that individual. 

"We have had individuals who can perform a certain way that has been good for us and get across the gain line and get quick ball." 

Wales' direct approach has even been called 'Warrenball' under Gatland's guidance by former London Irish and England coach Brian Smith. 

Gatland shocked critics by coaching the 2017 British and Irish Lions to a series draw in New Zealand where they implemented an exciting style of play in the Tests that revolved around the pairing of England's Owen Farrell and Ireland's Johnny Sexton. 

Bath's Rhys Priestland, Scarlets' Rhys Patchell and Owen Williams of Gloucester all come into contention for Wales' 10/12 expansive combination which Gatland is seeking to use. Gatland also signalled his intent by dropping Roberts and Scott Williams. 

"We are going to be looking at that over the next few weeks and it worked with the Lions because you had Farrell and Sexton who are both world class," he added. 

"I know Owen Williams has played a bit at 12 and a bit at 10 and a conversation with Aaron Mauger [the ex-All Black who played with Williams at Leicester] last year he felt he was a 12. 

"Sometimes it is a huge benefit if players have played both positions; [Dragons, Wales and Lions back Gavin] Henson played 10 and 12, Farrell likewise. 

"We have had the discussion about whether Patchell could fill that role; he is playing quite flat and doing a good job for the Scarlets from an attacking perspective. 

"We will look at combinations and put the players under pressure in terms of decision-making. 

"Training is one thing, but there is nothing like a game, particularly first-up against Australia. 

"We could look at another combination for the second game against Georgia depending on how the first game goes and who else we want to look at." 

Wales' opening match against the Wallabies is on 11 November.

Read more on:    wales  |  warren gatland  |  rugby
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