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Dropping North has been a surprise move by Wales in the Six Nations, presenting an opportunity.
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Dropping North has been a surprise move by Wales in the Six Nations, presenting an opportunity.

The coach of Wales, Warren Gatland, has made a surprise decision by not including the usual centers George North and Nick Tompkins in his team for the upcoming Six Nations game against France on Sunday.

The Wales assistant coach, Mike Forshaw, stated that both players have rebounded following their exclusion and a new midfield combination of Joe Roberts and Owen Watkin has been selected instead.

Despite North and Tompkins having a combined total of 155 appearances, with North being the most seasoned member in Wales’s Six Nations team, Roberts, a 23-year-old center from Scarlets, will be starting his first match in the tournament, while Watkin makes a return after playing in the opening game against Scotland.

“I believe this is a chance to evaluate Joe,” Forshaw expressed. “Joe was unfortunate to not be selected for the World Cup. We decided to give him a chance to showcase his skills in this game. Roberts shows great promise as a young 13, and Owen Watkin has a lot of experience.”

Every decision carries a certain level of risk, but it’s important to have confidence in the messaging and coaching that we provide.

Both North and Tompkins are unharmed. Nick and George have been communicated with and strongly support our cause. They have not been replaced, having performed very well in their two games together. However, Joe will be given a chance to play and we have made the decision to make the switch this week. We must support him in this decision.

Wales has been defeated in their last four Six Nations matches against France. However, in their upcoming game, they will face a struggling Les Bleus team. Les Bleus have recently lost to Ireland and tied at home against Italy, in between narrowly winning against Scotland.

Wales has not been able to secure a win in any of their competition games this season, even though their last two matches against France and Italy will be held at the Principality Stadium.

Forshaw stated that the two boys were let down, but they bounced back and showed strong support for Owen and Joe.

George is highly regarded in this community and he comprehends the situation completely. It would be disheartening if they were not also disappointed. The day of selecting the team is always challenging because you strive to be chosen and represent Wales.

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This morning, they were both doing well. They were feeling down yesterday, which I understand because I have been in their shoes before, but the two boys who recently joined will provide them with full support.

The role of flanker for Wales will now be filled by Dafydd Jenkins, who has been moved from the lock position, as Will Rowlands joins Adam Beard as a second-row pairing. Additionally, Ryan Elias will be stepping in as hooker in place of Elliot Dee. This will mark Jenkins’ debut as No. 6 for both his club and his country, as he takes over from Alex Mann.

Rowlands was absent from Wales’s initial Six Nations game against Scotland due to his partner delivering a child. He later appeared as a substitute in losses against England and Ireland.

Mann is one of the substitutes, joined by his Cardiff teammate Mackenzie Martin, Scarlets scrum-half Gareth Davies, and Dee, who has appeared in 49 matches.

“I believe that there is no risk with Daf at number six,” Forshaw stated. “He has two highly skilled back-rowers alongside him. On the weekend, Will Rowlands played 70 minutes with his club, Racing 92, in Paris. I saw him show flashes of returning to his top form. I think he will be a great addition to our team this week.”

Source: theguardian.com