Wales 8/9 to run riot in World Cup opener

Warren Gatland’s preparations for the competition were hit badly in the last few weeks after scrum-half Rhys Webb and full-back Leigh Halfpenny were ruled out of the tournament following injuries during the recent win over Italy.


That Wales are able to call on a two-time Lion with almost 100 caps shows why there is reason for optimism despite hosts England and Rugby Championship winners Australia lying in wait.

North has suffered four serious head injuries in only five months, so keeping him wrapped in cotton wool should be one of Gatland’s main priorities. The price on Samoa winning by one to 12 points appears to be very generous considering the previous results between the teams and there is every reason to think this could be similarly close.

Biggar has matured into a fine player and is vital for Wales. “It’s a good chance for those players to get the World Cup underway”, he told reporters on Friday. Cory Allen and Scott Williams are the centres, with Rhys Priestland at fly half.

The combination of Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric in the back row for Wales will bring back memories of the 30-3 thrashing of England in 2013 and gives Wales a more attacking options from the back row than usual. It could come down to points difference so the Welsh know the importance of getting off to a strong start in this gentle opener against the South Americans.

Gatland has wisely opted to rest Gethin Jenkins, Alun Wyn Jones and Taulupe Faletau from the pack – three British Lions test starters who will be needed for far tougher upcoming fixtures.

R Priestland (Bath), G Davies (Scarlets); P James (Ospreys), S Baldwin (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets), J Ball (Scarlets), L Charteris (Racing 92), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), J Tipuric (Ospreys), J King (Ospreys).

On the eve of Wales’ opening game against Uruguay in Cardiff on Sunday, Gatland said: “There are a number of teams who need a bit of luck to get through the pool stages”.


World Cup referees’ chiefs have already underlined the firm stance that will be taken against offenders, including punishment for any players guilty of diving or similar histrionics.

Matthew Morgan has been named on the bench for Wales World Cup opener       	      	     VIEW