Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Warren Gatland wise to bring experienced squad

Warren Gatland. Photo / AP
Warren Gatland. Photo / AP

Warren Gatland knows the rugby turf in Wales and on this side of the world.

He understands the bundle of difficulties about picking a squad at the end of their season to challenge 63 years of All Black domination and how to get Wales into that zone.

Talented youngsters will not get the job done against an All Blacks side which will be stacked with experience.

So there are no wildcards or bold choices amongst the 35-man squad Gatland picked for a shakedown against England then the three tests and midweek match against the Chiefs in June.

He delivered a pragmatic response about the demands of the tour and his selections.

"I think it says it all about how tough it's going to be, I don't think New Zealand is the best place to be blooding youngsters in terms of confidence. We've gone for the most experienced team we could have picked."

Gatland was emphatic. There were no new faces whose form made them compelling choices.

Captain Sam Warburton, senior lock Alun Wyn Jones and several others will tour but have to survive tests on injuries which have bitten into their recent work while former Blues and Chiefs five eighths Gareth Anscombe makes the trip.

Warburton is the only specialist opensider in the squad and Toulon fullback Leigh Halfpenny has missed the cut as he continues to recover from his knee problems.

If any extra incentives were needed, this tour was a huge chance for Welsh players to demand they return a year later with the Lions and probably with Gatland as coach.

The match with England was crucial because in previous tours Wales had taken players who had not played for about a month while others had come straight from finlas in Europe.

- NZ Herald

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