All of Wales’ players, according to coach Warren Gatland, are available for Sunday’s World Cup opening against Fiji in Bordeaux.
On Tuesday morning, all 33 members of the squad participated in training.
Dewi Lake, Taulupe Faletau, Ryan Elias, Dafydd Jenkins, and Gareth Anscombe, who all served as co-captains, were all questionable due to injuries.
On Friday in Bordeaux, once the team has traveled there from their headquarters in Versailles, Gatland will announce his starting lineup.
“Everyone is fit,” Gatland proclaimed.
We’ve had a few niggles during the past two weeks. It seems like eight or ten players weren’t putting up the effort throughout training. Minor hiccups; nothing to worry about.
We’re in a good spot since they’ve all been through rehabilitation and are now physically capable of contributing to the group.
In Wales’ three pre-World Cup games, Lake, Jenkins, and Elias all suffered injuries.
Due to calf and hand injuries, respectively, neither Faletau nor Anscombe participated in any way.
Gatland acknowledged that he had some deciding to do over his final 23-man roster to face Fiji.
Gatland has mentioned that one of the best things about the current squad is that there will be some dissatisfied players.
We have a lot of opportunities open to us. You’re in search of challenging decisions. You shouldn’t have easy access to your 15, 23, or any other number.
It’s important for the coaching staff to vigorously argue which possible lineups would be ideal. That’s something I anticipate happening in the near future.
Faletau, the Welsh national team’s No. 8, is one of the best players in the world. He has appeared in 100 international matches for his country.
Gatland stated, “That experience is taken into account.”
It’s been three weeks and he’s been putting in full effort at training.
When compared to the set pieces the boys have been working on for a while, there is little doubt that he was blowing very hard in the first week.
That took some time, but we’ve been closely monitoring his GPS stats, and they’ve been great for him.
It’s very bad he hurt himself working with Tomos Williams; they had a good thing going.
They had been practicing before arriving in the Vale’s little encampment.
“Despite his lack of on-foot activity, he has put in significant off-feet fitness. They’ve been putting a lot of pressure on him.
Work on the sidelines can be more challenging than playing on the field itself. They’ve put in a ton of work with him, and he could potentially play this weekend.
One last goal
Gatland is getting ready to lead Wales in their fourth World Cup. At the conclusion of Gatland’s first stint as head coach of Wales in 2019, this seemed like an improbable prospect.
Gatland is eager to make history and reach his first World Cup final after returning for a second stint in December 2022 to succeed Wayne Pivac.
“I didn’t expect to be here, but I’m really looking forward to this,” Gatland remarked.
“This is my fifth World Cup. It would be great to win it all after reaching the last four twice.
A few weeks ago, Gatland predicted that Wales would shock the world at the World Cup, and now that he is in France, he has reiterated that prediction.
“We’ve worked incredibly hard over the last few months,” Gatland remarked.
We’ve put in a lot of work over the past two weeks to get ready for Fiji. Recently, after giving them careful consideration, we’ve gained a clearer understanding of our goals and objectives with regard to them.
It’s nice to see the lads all dressed up and looking good this afternoon. We probably covered a little more ground than we planned to in order for them to hit the ground running on day one. I feel like we’ve reached a nice point.
The guys are really content. The ensemble has a positive vibe because the boys get along well.
After their opening match against Fiji, Wales will play Portugal, Australia, and Georgia in Pool C, all of whom are familiar enemies for Gatland’s side on the international scene.
Gatland has stated that the World Cup is the apex of all competitions.
It’s the only opportunity to fully prepare for an international window. It’s like having a pre-season with a professional team you’re working with.
That’s the toughest part of a fall season or the Six Nations. You only have a week with the whole team and then another week with the majority of the squad, so you have to make the most of your time together.
“We’ve been able to work on a lot of things in the last few months in terms of the detail and putting together a strategy, but also making sure that we’ve done not just the hard work but worked hard on other aspects of the game.”