Warren Gatland welcomes Wales open-side selection 'headache'

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Wales coach Warren Gatland says the summer tour is giving him an enjoyable selection “headache”, particularly at open-side flanker.

James Davies impressed in a try-scoring display in Saturday’s 23-10 victory against Argentina in the first Test.

Ellis Jenkins also caught the eye the previous week, as he captained Wales to a 22-20 win over South Africa.

“We’re blessed at the moment with the quality of loose forwards we’ve got and number sevens,” Gatland said.

“Ellis was great last week and James was fantastic today… we’re here to find out about players and give them opportunities.


“These boys have fronted up over the last couple of weeks and are going to give us some real talking points going forward.

“It’s a good position to be in, particularly as we’ve got a couple who aren’t here as well.”

Justin Tipuric was rested for the summer tour, while his British and Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton and Josh Navidi are injured.

Gatland joked that the growing competition for places would be worse for those players not on the tour than for the coaching staff.

“I think some of the boys sitting at home watching on TV have probably got a worse headache than I have!” added the New Zealander.

“When you get a lot of competition, [absent] players are wanting the team to do well but not too well.”

Argentina's Tomas Lavanini is stopped by Wales&quot; Adam Beard (4) and Dillon Lewis<!–

While enjoying the tussle for the seven shirt, Gatland was pleased with how his whole team played against a Pumas side whose core is from Super Rugby side Jaguares.

“It was a fantastic performance from the boys,” Gatland said.

“We were under a bit of pressure in terms of territory and possession, but we spoke before the game about how important our defensive performance was going to be… and they fronted up today.

“As a coaching team you can’t ask any more than that; the guys put their bodies on the line and delivered.

“That’s a side [Argentina] that’s been together in Super Rugby, so they’re very familiar, and we’ve had two or three weeks together as a side, putting different combinations out.

“We feel like we’re in a really good place, Welsh rugby is in a really good place and we’re really looking forward to the next 12 to 14 months to Japan.”

Gatland targets tour clean sweep

With two wins from two so far, Wales’ tour culminates on Saturday, 16 June with the second and final Test against Argentina in Santa Fe.

Gatland wants his side to end the season on a high note as players continue their efforts to be with Wales at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

“We’ve spoken in the changing rooms about being two from two and wanting to make a clean sweep of it,” said Gatland.

“We feel like we’re in a really good place at the moment and we’re really looking forward to the next 12 to 14 months and on to Japan for the World Cup.”

Wales have not won a series in Argentina since 1999 and now have the chance to claim a rare prize.

Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade said his side must overcome their breakdown shortcomings in the second Test.

“Wales beat us in defence and they deserved to win,” he said.

“They were very good and if we do not win the contact or are better at the breakdown, we will suffer again next Saturday.

“We have to get to the ball first, beat Wales to the floor, and generate the momentum necessary to play the way the Pumas can play.”

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