Personally, I’m very excited to see some of Wales’ fringe players get the nod on this tour, with the stalwart British and Irish Lions being given a well-deserved summer off.
Here is the team I would select to face Argentina in Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario this Saturday evening:
The bench is rather more difficult to finalise but I, personally, would select:
Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, James Davies, Tomos Williams, Owen Watkin, Tom Prydie.
Anscombe’s counter-attacking from deep has been excellent for Cardiff Blues this season and often brings in his wingers Lane, Scully or Smith in to finish off when doing so. If Adams and North offer similar support lines, kicking loose against Wales with this back three could be a dangerous prospect. Another reason for selecting Anscombe at fullback is if Patchell suffers a knock, or Gatland needs to change tactic, the Cardiff Blue can slot in at fly-half seamlessly. This allows for both Watkin and Prydie to be eligible on the bench.
Scott Williams appears to have found his pace and flair that had been somewhat absent since recovering from his knee injury at the last World Cup and looks to be in fine form once more. With Parkes being the epitome of consistency, reliability and power, this Scarlets pairing has already proved to be world class. Patchell and Davies have been in scintillating synchronisation all season, and together they are a half-back pairing with pace to burn! With the Pumas likely to be aggressive and powerful at the breakdown, there may be some space around the fringes and there are none better than the Scarlets scrum-half at exploiting those gaps.
Props Evans and Lee have been outstanding at both the set-piece and in the loose, all season for the Scarlets, with the regional skipper Owens rested, the addition of Dee makes the front row a little bulkier than usual (not necessarily a bad thing against Argentina’s notoriously heavyweight pack). Rob Evans is arguably the top loosehead in the northern hemisphere at the moment and Samson Lee looks to have shredded some excess weight and look leaner and more mobile than ever before (though his neck still appears to be as thick as an oak tree). These two will need to be completely focused at the scrum if Wales are to ignite their fiery back line.
There’s an even balance in the second row with co-captain Cory Hill linking up with veteran Bradley Davies, bringing both athleticism and power to the pack respectively. Wales are blessed with an abundance of back row superstars and despite having Aaron Shingler and Sam Warburton injured, and Taulupe Faletau rested, Wales’ pool of loose forwards to choose from is the envy of the home nations. Seb Davies, who can also play lock, is a powerful blindside and is definitely one to watch as his career develops. Ellis Jenkins was excellent at the helm last week and gets the nod at openside while the powerhouse Moriarty will be looking to muscle his way back into the spotlight before joining the Dragons next season. James Davies will likely be on the bench, giving Gatland that extra spurt of speed and energy in the latter stages of the game.
Wales could also have brought Harrison Keddie, Ollie Griffiths, Josh Macleod or Will Boyde on tour and I bet they would not have looked out of place on the international stage.
I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Watkin or Amos in the starting XV, and Wainwright might be given the nod on the bench too.