Leaving Sam Warburton as the only recognised seven is a risk for Wales, says Scott Quinnell.
By Scott Quinnell
Last Updated: 23/08/11 12:58pm
Being left out of the World Cup squad is devastating for Martyn Williams.
You can understand what Warren Gatland is trying to do but it's a bit of a gamble because if Sam Warburton gets injured then your only specialist seven is out of the tournament. Especially when you're looking at playing against the likes of Samoa, South Africa and Fiji - you need that out and out seven at the contact area.
When you look at it, a week ago it was probably Martyn Williams in the slot - but then Andy Powell came and did well against Argentina on the weekend.
They're taking three 8s but Ryan Jones can move up to play second row and cover that position as well. Wales will have to be very fortunate that Warburton plays in every game. I think the back row will be Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau and Warburton, with the likes of Ryan Jones to come off the bench.
With regards the injuries at hooker, it's particularly disappointing for Matthew Rees because he's taken over the captaincy with great esteem and since the last Lions tour he's been one of Wales' best players.
Having said that, I've been very impressed with Huw Bennett in the warm-up games. He's shown a lot of skill in all areas - his lineout work has been very good and this is a huge opportunity for him at the highest level. It's the best rugby I've seen him play.
Gatland is spoilt for choice at 10. At the start of the warm-up campaign I would have thought Stephen Jones was nailed on to start at 10 but unfortunately he picked up a bit of a calf injury.
We're very fortunate that Rhys Priestland has come in and played very well in that position and obviously James Hook has taken his opportunity. It'll be very interesting to see how Warren Gatland goes against South Africa - the experience of Stephen Jones or the flamboyance of Hook. I'd like to see Priestland at full-back at some stage because that's where he was going to play against England.
I can understand those who say Lee Byrne is slightly lucky to be going because he hasn't been playing to the level he was two or three years ago. He's had a lot of injuries and came back in last weekend, but he's the only out-and-out full-back in the squad and we've got to trust in him to come good at the World Cup.
He puts a lot of pressure on himself and that will be a good thing leading up to the tournament - he knows he's got Hook and Priestland pressuring him for his position.
I don't see Gatland disrupting the centre partnership of Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts to accommodate Stephen Jones, Hook or Priestland. I think the Davies-Roberts combination is very physical and that's exactly what will be needed against South Africa. I think Hook will start at 10 and Byrne will start at 15.
On the wing, George North has the quality to set the competition on fire. His try-scoring abilities are amazing. The way he's been performing has been fantastic and it's not just his finishing - he has a great rugby brain as well. His angles of running, his ability to pass out of contact and his all-round potential may well make him a star of this World Cup.
Lastly, Wales have taken another huge gamble on Gethin Jenkins, who hasn't played a huge amount of rugby but is a world-class player. He must have been performing well in training - we know his qualities.
The same goes for another British & Irish Lion prop, Adam Jones, who hasn't played much. They've both got world-class pedigree - let's hope they're both fit and ready for that second game.