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Why Taine Plumtree has quickly become 'a good asset' for Wales

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Wales boss Warren Gatland looks set to hand Scarlets centre Joe Roberts a Test debut among wholesale changes for Saturday’s second Rugby World Cup warm-up game against England.


Wales head to Twickenham on the back of an impressive 20-9 Summer Nations Series victory in Cardiff that saw them score 14 unanswered second-half points through converted tries from Gareth Davies and George North.

But Gatland is now ready to cast an eye over several World Cup candidates who were not involved at the Principality Stadium. Roberts apart, other potential starters include wing Josh Adams, fly-half Owen Williams, hooker Dewi Lake and lock Rhys Davies.

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Back row forward Taine Plumtree, meanwhile, could line up at number eight following an impressive debut off the replacements’ bench last weekend.

Swansea-born Plumtree, whose rugby education came in the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby competition, only linked up with Wales ahead of their mid-July training camp in Switzerland.


But he has made an immediate impression and is already viewed as a player with an outstanding chance of making Gatland’s final 33-strong World Cup squad. “He has been very good, he is a talent and an athlete,” Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said.

“He understands the game, and he played pretty well when he went on on Saturday. We will see if he gets another opportunity in the coming weeks, but he is a good asset to the squad as a player and a person.


“He said to most of the guys that he was pretty nervous before coming in out in Switzerland and not knowing anyone. He has certainly found his feet and he gets on with the guys.”

Aaron Wainwright wore the number eight shirt in Wales’ warm-up opener, with Plumtree now seemingly destined to fill that role as star back row forward Taulupe Faletau continues his recovery from a calf muscle injury.

“He [Faletau] is making good strides and we just need to keep an eye on him,” Jenkins added. “He is a class act, and the last thing we want to do is push him too early, but he is certainly making progress and he is in a pretty good place.

“He is a world-class player, so we will see what happens in the coming days and weeks.”

Wales look set to face a much-changed England team as they continue their warm-up schedule in a first Test since head coach Steve Borthwick announced his World Cup squad.


“Twickenham is a tough place to go and they have got a very good record against us up there,” Jenkins said. “But it’s another challenge and another good opportunity for the boys.

“When you can come out on the right side (of the result) it does give you confidence, there is no doubting that. We are in a different place to where we were in the Six Nations, and that is a good thing.

“To win a Test match against England is no mean feat, but we are grounded. We have got to go again, and we can’t be the same this Saturday. We have to be better. It’s plain and simple.

“Keeping a Test team to nine points and not conceding any tries is a massive plus and bonus. Can we raise the bar this Saturday? That is the challenge for us.”

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Shaylen 5 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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Jon 11 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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