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'It is something I have put out there potentially as an option'

By PA
(Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

Warren Gatland says Wales could have two captains at the World Cup after skipper Ken Owens was ruled out of the tournament.

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Scarlets hooker Owens, capped 91 times, has failed to recover from a back injury ahead of the World Cup, which starts in September.

Gatland says it is possible 36-year-old Owens could feature in the later stages of the tournament if there was an injury at hooker, but he will not be named when the New Zealander announces his 33-man squad at the end of August.

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“Ken didn’t train at all with us (in recent weeks), his back has not recovered,” head coach Gatland said.

“He has not been able to do any of the training. It is the same injury but not as severe as before so he may need an operation on that.

“He wanted to reiterate he has not retired from rugby and he is hoping potentially he could be available later if we pick up injuries in the tournament.”

Asked about Owens’ successor, Gatland added: “Co-captaincy is a possibility. We did that with Ellis Jenkins and Cory Hill in 2018 and it worked well.

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“It is something I have put out there potentially as an option, it is not guaranteed we will do that.

“We will put a leadership group together and we will tell the players. You look at the squad and I don’t think there are any guaranteed starting positions and players will get opportunities in the squad.

“It is looking at the team and picking the right person as captain. It is the support they are going to get or is it potentially co-captains that can share that role and responsibility?”

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Outside-half Dan Biggar, who captained Wales in the 2022 Six Nations and the following summer tour to South Africa, and second-row forward Adam Beard are among the leading candidates to take the armband.

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Possible younger options could be hooker Dewi Lake, 24, and 23-year-old flanker Jac Morgan.

Gatland chose Sam Warburton, then 22, to be Wales’ captain at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Asked if he would consider a young captain again, Gatland said: “Yes absolutely. We have time for that with the two camps (in Switzerland and Turkey) and seeing more of the rugby.

“We have been doing that more with players getting plenty of touches on the ball.

“We probably won’t name a captain or captains until we name the squad.”

Scarlets back-rower Josh Macleod (shoulder) and Cardiff prop Will Davies-King (foot) have both been released from the squad.

Taulupe Faletau will miss the first week of the Switzerland camp because of a calf injury.

Alex Cuthbert and Owen Williams will miss the trip altogether but Gatland, who has called Ospreys hooker Sam Parry into a revised 47-man squad, is confident they will be fit for the Turkey trip.

Veteran trio Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb have all retired from Test rugby during a turbulent build-up to the World Cup.

Prop Rhys Carre was released from an initial 54-player training squad after he failed to hit individual performance targets, while lock Hill withdrew to pursue a club contract opportunity outside of Wales.

“They are different in a way,” Gatland said when asked how this group compared to previous squads.

“There are some young players that are a bit green, but even in a short of period of time we have seen how they have developed.

“They’re all sponges in terms of wanting to learn and wanting to get better. I see that as hugely positive.”

 

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma
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