Liam Williams Wales Rugby World Cup preview: Warren Gatland’s side could not be in better shape

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So, ‘The Best Team in the World’ are going to the World Cup as 10/1 outsiders with plenty of bookmakers.  

It’s not often a No 1 ranked team – as Wales were briefly last month – are so unfancied by those who hoard the dosh. 

But that’s where we are with Wales who have found themselves in a curious position; well prepared, full of energy, momentum, talent, a consistent run of form, possibly the best squad they’ve ever had, with the best coach they’ve ever had… but in the awkward position of having blinked onto the radar they are so desperate to fly under.

So will they shine brightly, or fade in Japan? Are they worthy of your fiver? And how will you spend the winnings if Alun Wyn Jones lifts the Webb Ellis Cup on November 2?

All that to come and more, asSportsmailassess Wales’ chances at the Rugby World Cup.

Warren Gatland is looking to sign off in style by leading Wales to their first World Cup triumph

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Published:03:57 EDT, 9 September 2019|Updated:05:24 EDT, 9 September 2019

POOL D FIXTURES 

Georgia, September 23, 11.15am

Australia, September 29, 8.45am

Fiji, October 9, 10.45am

Uruguay, October 13, 9.15am 

Really, really good. It’s almost worrying how well everything is going for Wales.

OK, so they have lost two major players to injury – and definitely cannot afford to be without many more talisman – after No 8 Taulupe Faletau (broken collarbone in training) and fly-half Gareth Anscombe (cruciate knee ligament injury v England last month) were cruelly ruled out.

But, other than that, things are decidedly rosy in Warren Gatland’s garden.

Essentially he is a big-game coach. He loves World Cups, and has been planning for this for ages (yes, others have too, but no one does it quite like Gatland).

It was back in 2016 when he decided that the old ways – don’t mention the style of rugby named after him for God’s sake – were not good enough, and expansion of thought and deed was needed.

Wales may have lost a series against the All Blacks 3-0 that year, and were humbled by the Chiefs too, but it was the first step towards expansion of their playing style.

The next stage was to add depth of playing resources. In 2015 a host of horrible injuries – to Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams, Cory Allen, Hallam Amos and Scott Williams – left Wales desperately short (despite the fact they beat England with a scrum-half on the wing).

Taulupe Faletau’s injury absence is a huge blow for Wales but Ross Moriarty has stepped up

Published:03:57 EDT, 9 September 2019|Updated:05:24 EDT, 9 September 2019

KEY PLAYERS 

Alun Wyn Jones 

The captain marvel and soon-to-be record national cap-winner with 130 stashed in his cupboard. Recently voted the ‘best player in the world’, he might not be that, but he is a giant, evergreen legend that defies all logic with his stupendous performances.

Jonathan Davies 

Defensive captain, double Lion and vice-skipper – the centre has no equal in Welsh red. He goes, and the backline is all over the pla

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