Assessing Wales hopes in this game almost involves more qualifiers than you’ll see at the next US Open Golf tournament (156, come on people read a book), more “If’s” than an anthology of Rudyard Kipling’s poetry but I’ve got a spare 5 minutes, so here goes -#
- If the Welsh tight 5 can match their Irish opponents they’ll give the exciting backline to play on the front foot. However, there’s no Owens, Alun-Wyn, Navidi, Tipuric or Faletau so that will be tough.
- If Ryan Elias can channel his inner Ken Owens and defend as well as he carries the ball it will allow Taine Basham and Ellis Jenkins to disrupt the breakdown which could provide turnover ball for the backs.
- If Dan Biggar plays in the same postcode as the gain-line it will do the forwards a massive favour as our ball carriers repeatedly being stopped 10 metres behind the gain-line lead to numerous penalties being conceded in the autumn as we struggled to sufficiently resource rucks.
- If Tompkins and Adams are the new Gibbs and Bateman (no laughing at the back, it could happen) Wales could prove a serious threat to a very organised Irish backline.
- If Wales actually attack toward the left-hand side of the field then Louis Rees-Zammit won’t have to go looking for the ball and that should provide him with more opportunity to attack against isolated defenders.
- Conversely when Johnny McNicholl appears in the middle of the pitch it really causes opposing defences issues because he can ride tackles and has an innate ability to find space amongst the traffic.
- If Liam Williams can recapture his vintage form he is one of the most devastating attackers in rugby but recently he’s looked someone who is battling his body.
So, it’s not impossible but you’d have to be very optimistic to believe 7 things are likely to have concurrently in one of the two biggest games of the year for all of these players.