Jarrod Evans and Rhys Patchell face what is effectively a winner-takes-all World Cup duel in Saturday’s clash against Ireland. Evans will start the tournament warm-up game in Cardiff, with fellow fly-half Patchell then featuring off the bench.
Whoever leaves the biggest impression on Wales head coach Warren Gatland looks likely to join experienced No10 Dan Biggar in Japan next month. Asked if Evans and Patchell were in direct competition, Gatland said: “Probably, yes.
“Jarrod gets an opportunity. We know a little bit more about Rhys Patchell, so the pressure is on him [Evans], and he understands that fully. It’s about coming out, starting a game and controlling a game. Rhys will get the second half, and it’s about him coming on and making an impression.
“The two of them are pretty aware that they will get the chance on Saturday, and it’s probably a shoot-out between the two of them.”
Gatland, who names his 31-man World Cup squad on Sunday, added: “There are a number of positions still up for grabs – front row, second row, back row, back three, the 10 position. The players are pretty well aware of how important this game is, and the opportunity they get to put their hands up for selection on Sunday.”
"It's a fantastic chance for them to put their hand up for selection."?
Warren Gatland discusses today's team announcement for Saturday's meeting with Ireland. pic.twitter.com/CT2KRHR4T3
— Welsh Rugby Union ? (@WelshRugbyUnion) August 29, 2019
Cardiff Blues wing Owen Lane and Saracens prop Rhys Carre will make their Wales debuts at the Principality Stadium. Gatland has made 14 changes from the starting line-up on duty against England on August 17, with Blues back row forward Josh Navidi captaining Wales for the first time as they seek to safeguard their No1 world ranking.
Lane and Carre apart, there are also opportunities for the likes of full-back Hallam Amos, centre Scott Williams and hooker Ryan Elias. Lane and Amos could effectively be battling it out for one back three spot, while 21-year-old Carre has an opportunity to show the form that drove Premiership and European champions Saracens to sign him from the Blues earlier this year.
“It was a bit of a shock to them [Lane and Carre] when they first came in with regards to how hard we train, but they have fitted in well,” Gatland said. “Rhys has lost about 10 kilograms since he’s been with us! Owen Lane has continued to improve and impress, and both of them have fitted in well and hopefully they make the most of their opportunity.”
– Press Association
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