It’s the final game of Wales’ World Cup warm-up programme and the coaches will be already looking ahead to the global-tournament opener against Georgia on September 23.
Then there’s the potentially key game against Australia six days later.
Which players have banked credit with their efforts this summer? And who is in line to achieve first-choice status in Japan?
We’ve looked at the performance statistics to help assess the position of every player ahead of this weekend’s game with Ireland in Dublin.
The Saracens man has only had one outing but he performed well in it, putting in 13 runs that yielded 99 metres against England at Twickenham. There were two clean breaks and four defenders beaten, plus eight tackles and just one miss.
A hip injury sidelined him for the return and he sat out the home match with Ireland, too.
He figures on the bench at the Aviva Stadium but is an outstanding player who would surely start were Wales playing a World Cup final tomorrow.
Like Liam Williams, he has only figured once to date this summer, answering a late call to begin against England in Cardiff.
He understandably looked rusty early on but eventually settled to bang in a solid performance, topped by a try-saving tackle and a superbly judged catch under pressure. He also made 37 metres with seven runs, with two men beaten.
Warren Gatland will be reassured to have such a dependable option at his disposal. Liam Williams appears well placed for the No. 15 shirt, but there will be games when Wales reshuffle, perhaps with Dan Biggar sitting out proceedings, and Halfpenny’s goal-kicking expertise will be an important consideration.
Wales’ player of the summer so far. Two games and high standards hit in both of them, with tries scored home and away against England and 12 runs covering 115 metres. North has also made three clean breaks and at Twickenham bowled through six defenders. He needs to tighten up on the number of turnovers he is conceding, but he hasn’t missed a tackle and has looked close to his best. If he’s not a first choice, who is?
The highlight of Adams’ two outings against England came when he burst onto Dan Biggar’s penalty crosskick at the Principality Stadium and made important ground in the run-up to George North’s try. England were dozing at the time, but Adams showed alertness.
He has run steadily with ball in hand. In the debit column are three missed tackles from eight attempts. But he appears to be part of Gatland’s number one back-three unit.
Keep an eye on Amos. He may have been the last of the back-three boys to seal a place — that’s the assumption, anyway — but he is skilful and had a fine game in his only outing this past month, against Ireland in Cardiff, stacking up some impressive stats.
He will need the breaks to go his way in Japan but don’t rule out Cardiff Blues’ classy new signing making a mark.
Another who showed up well against England in London, continually beating defenders and posing an attacking threat. There has been the odd missed tackle in his two outings, but Davies brings organisational expertise to the whole backline and is Wales’ number one centre.
Aside from Jonathan Davies’ effort against England at Twickenham, arguably the best performance of the summer by a Welsh centre was Scott Williams’ gutsy effort against Ireland as he tried in vain to secure a World Cup spot. Parkes has been hard-working and sound, trucking the ball forward and putting in a lot of tackles.
No pyrotechnics from Watkin, but the Osprey did enough in his first start of the campaign, against Ireland, to seal a place. A squad needs competition, though, and Warren Gatland will want the youngster to put pressure on Wales’ frontline centres.
It seems Biggar will never have enough credit in the bank in some eyes. One bright cameo off the bench by a rival and the call goes up for there to be a fly-half rethink. Yet Biggar had walked off with the man-of-the-match award in the previous game against England.
He deserved the bauble, too, not only creating George North’s try with two skilful crosskicks but also defending well.
It would be a surprise were he not considered the main man at 10 in Japan.
Looked on a mission against Ireland, with a snap about everything he did. He didn’t actually kick the ball once in open play but his passing was top drawer and his work with the boot from penalty situations was also high class. Also, scored a try. His difficult year with concussion-related injuries prompted questions about his defence, but he put six tackles and missed just one. He will travel as Dan Biggar’s deputy but is capable of applying pressure.
He has beaten eight defenders in his two outings, made three clean breaks and scored a wonder try at Twickenham. There have been some missed tackles and questions over his game-control remain, but his experience and attacking prowess probably put him at the front of the scrum-half queue.
He has featured in all the games so far this summer but still has work to do to challenge for the No. 9 shirt in Japan. He made 17 metres from five thrusts as a starter against Ireland but others are more explosive. In defence, too, Davies could tighten up. But he is gaining experience at this level and that counts for a lot.
Just the one outing for Williams, off the bench against Ireland, and he caught the eye with his spark and willingness to have a go. Gatland will also have noted that he didn’t miss a tackle. He needs another strong effort this weekend, with little between him and Gareth Davies.
Wales’ Rugby World Cup squad announcement
He is a force at the breakdown and nicked a couple of balls off England in Cardiff. The Osprey was also spotted more with ball in hand. There were a couple of penalties conceded at the Principality Stadium and the Welsh scrum hasn’t been frightening anyone, but Smith looks the frontline loose-head at this point and he is still on the up as a player.
Wales’ scrum as creaked towards the end of games when reserves have been on the pitch and Jones was one of the replacements in the matches with England. That said, there were problems on the other side of the set-piece, too, and for the Scarlets Jones is considered a reliable scrum option. Needs a good game in Dublin if he is to keep Nicky Smith on his toes.
The only Welsh prop this summer not to concede a penalty, according to the official figures.
And that’s not bad for a player who had only started one Guinness PRO14 match before making his Test debut.
Carre put in three carries that were stopped on the gain-line against Ireland but he also came up with six tackles, one of which smashed Dave Kilcoyne into next week. He has also impressed with his attitude in training, losing around 22lb since hitching up with the Wales squad. He is still developing but there’s every chance he will see game-time.
Wales’ scrum hasn’t been great this summer, but Francis had a fine Six Nations and is a nailed-on starter. He hasn’t been overdoing it with ball in hand — four carries, no metres made — but 14 tackles in two games underline his eagerness to defend.
He will travel to the World Cup as Francis’ tight-head deputy. There remain questions over his scrummaging , while he conceded two penalties late on at Twickenham, but his carrying, defence and outstanding work over the ball are major plus points.
The Scarlet remains a clear first-choice at hooker with his uncompromising tackling and forceful carrying worth a lot to his side. Wales’ line-out experienced the odd glitch in London but Owens put it right the following weekend, with his side returning 15 out of 15 on their own throw.
He has shown no shortage of spark off the bench and this weekend has the opportunity to demonstrate what he can do as a starter. Twenty carries and 31 metres made add up to impressive stats with ball in hand. The number two No. 2.
A second watch of the Ireland match in Cardiff showed that Elias had a decent game. His runs were strong and he made his tackles count. There was the occasional line-out issue, but he wasn’t the only one responsible.
ALUN WYN JONES
He has banged in two 80-minute shifts and looks primed for battle. The captain has come up with 26 tackles and 23 carries in his outings so far. There have also been 12 passes, almost as many as front-line Wales centres. Absolutely central to his team’s campaign in Japan — of course he is.
He had a better game against Ireland after a quiet effort against England. There was ground made with ball in hand as Beard did his best to stoke the fires. He also pinched a line-out at Twickenham, and is a player with growth in his game, even if others will trying hard to wrest the No. 4 shirt off him.
It’s been a solid campaign for the big Scarlet. At times he has threatened to truly put his stamp on proceedings with the hard carrying of which we know he is capable. He also hasn’t missed a beat in defence. But there’s a suspicion he can come up with even more. This weekend would be a good time to produce it. In the battle to partner Alun Wyn Jones.
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He hasn’t been seen because of an injury. The fact that he’s been included in the squad shows how much he’s valued.
It’s been a successful return after a long time on the sidelines, with Shingler defending well in all three games and also carrying strongly against Ireland. He’s a key line-out option, too, and his versatility makes him important. Still moving up the gears, he will benefit from every game.
Only one start so far in the warm-up games, with Tipuric picking up an knock against England at Twickenham. Ten tackles and nothing missed in defence equated to a fine defensive show. There were also 18 metres made with ball in hand and one clean break. Wales have been missing too many hits and this guy should help put that right. Others might think differently, but, from here, he looks a starter.
The all-rounder of the Wales back row, he is a selfless player who can be relied on to give his all and he has hit the ground running since his return from injury. There have been five missed tackles, offset by Navidi’s impressive industry and willingness to take on unglamorous jobs. Gatland likes him; and others will need to play exceptionally well to stop him from being a first choice.
Like Tipuric, he has had only one outing over the past month. He did dent the English defence and make it into double figures with his tackling in London, even if a few home attackers passed him by. But he adds balance to proceedings and is capable of lifting his game. Likely to be seen as front liner.
A player who is going to be around the Wales team for the next decade. Impressed with his enthusiasm in defence in the first game with England and with his carrying in the return. Relatively quiet off the bench against Ireland. A good effort in Dublin could give the selectors a lot to think about.
He has shown a lot of character in this campaign, staying in the fight for a place after an injury and playing well against Ireland. He’ll probably been seen as an outsider for a starting spot at this stage, but a lot can happen and if Davies has a chance he is capable of making the most of it.
This content was originally published here.