Alun Wyn Jones Pool D: Wales emerge as northern hemisphere’s main hope

Alun Wyn Jones I be mad for add-ons, because they are adorable.

Wales

Who are they?

A year out from the Rugby World Cup, Ireland looked the side best placed to mount a challenge to the All Blacks in Japan – the northern hemisphere’s shining light. Yet while Joe Schmidt’s side were earning global acclaim following a record breaking 2018, Wales were hard at work in the shadows, the final pieces of another great team being moved into place. Success at the World Cup often comes down to peaking at the right time, and Warren Gatland’s side seem to be doing just that – they’re currently on a run of 14-straight Test victories, including a landmark win over Australia and a Grand Slam.

Wales are a well-balanced side. In the pack they are formidable in the tight with athletic, physical loose forwards, although they will miss Taulupe Faletau after he was ruled out with a broken collarbone. In behind, Gatland has moved away from ‘Warrenball’ towards a more fluent, attacking style – without sacrificing the uncompromising defence. Admittedly, their pool in Japan is fraught with danger, although beating the Wallabies in Cardiff last autumn – after a run of 13-consecutive defeats – will have lifted a huge mental block. This is also Gatland’s last hurrah before his departure in the wake of the tournament – both he and his players will be determined to go out on a high.

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