Our sport correspondent Richard Morgan looks ahead to Wales’ four Autumn tests. Who will be named in the squad and what chances does the team actually have of beating the finest teams the Southern Hemisphere has to offer?
So, with another Autumn series round the corner, who might be the surprise faces in the Wales squad to be named on Monday?
In the backs, George North of the Scarlets has been making a good impression, and has the kind of attributes that would appeal to the Wales coach: size, speed and strength.
Aled Brew of the Dragons has also been in good form, but the outside bet could be Lloyd Williams, the young scrum half at the Blues.
With Mike Phillips and Richie Rees firmly installed as the first choice number 9’s, there could be some scope for the youngster to come in on a learning brief, as Tom Prydie did during the Six Nations.
Young forwards pressing their claims include Josh Turnbull of the Scarlets, and Justin Tipuric of the Ospreys, both of whom have turned a few heads in the back row.
Toby Falatau of the Dragons is also earning a big reputation as a ball-carrier, though one feels this squad may have come early for him.
Ryan Jones’ recent selection as a second row is interesting – with Scott Johnson suggesting his future may lie there – but it’s hard to see the Wales Captain switching there anytime soon, with Wales relatively well-blessed in the area.
Tight-head prop back up for Adam Jones remains a concern, though Scott Andrews of the Blues is developing well. Otherwise, Rhys Thomas of the Scarlets should get another chance to press his claims.
But how will Wales do? Once again, Australia look the most beatable side, but few will forget the Wallaby walloping doled out this time last year.
South Africa, it’s said, are vulnerable but Wales don’t have a great record of finding the springbok achilles’ heal;with one win in 24 attempts.
And then the All Blacks, the one everyone wants to win. It’s been 57 years since Bleddyn Williams and co. became the last Wales side to dispatch New Zealand. Could this be the year? Let’s hope so, but against the reigning Tri-nations champions in World Cup season, don’t hold your breath!
Richard’s Autumn prediction
6/11/2010 – Australia – Wales win
13/11/2010 – South Africa – Wales lose
19/11/2010 – Fiji – Wales win
27/11/2010 – New Zealand – Wales lose