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English clubs causing selection headaches for Warren Gatland

By RugbyPass
(P{hot by Getty Images)

There was good and bad news this morning for Wales coach Warren Gatland as his number 8 Taulupe Faletau was granted release from his club, Bath, to play this weekend in the clash against South Africa. However, there are still questions about the availability of other players while two more Jake Ball and Justin Tipuric were ruled out through injury.

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As the match falls outside World Rugby’s autumn international window it was unclear whether any of Faletau, Owen Williams, Tomas Francis, Rhys Priestland or Jamie Roberts were going to be available.

These players are signed with English clubs and the policy of Premiership Rugby is to not allow the release of non-England players for Tests outside the window, under the risk of a penalty fee and even the possibility of points deduction which Bath have said they will accept for the release of Faletau.

In a statement released by Bath it was stated, “We continue to support the objective of resolving the club and international calendar for the benefit of players, clubs and unions, which would prevent this being an issue in the future.” However, in another twist, they have not made Rhys Priestland or South African Francois Louw available for the encounter.

When asked about Louw, Springboks head coach, Allister Coetzee, said: “I just follow regulation nine (availability of international players) and, from our point of view, Francois Louw is definitely not available for us.

“I cannot comment on the internal arrangement in the north but, if there is any agreement, I do not know about it.”

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Meanwhile, Wales centre Owen Williams has returned to Gloucester, while it remains unclear what the situation is with Harlequins star Jamie Roberts at this stage.

This is not the first time Wales have had problems with player availability after Northampton Saints were fined £60,000  when they allowed wing George North play for his national side.

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William 3 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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