Rhys Patchell Backed To Boss It For Wales At No.10

Rhys Patchell has been backed to pull the strings for Wales in this Six Nations championship – and help untangle their injury dilemmas.

Patchell is in line to be named at No.10 on Tuesday when Warren Gatland names his team to face Scotland in the opening match of the tournament this weekend.

With Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland both on the long injury list, Patchell is fighting for the starting spot at outside-half, along with Gareth Anscombe and Gloucester’s Owen Williams.

All three have their backers, but Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac believes Patchell can continue the hugely influential form the 24-year-old has shown for the region this season.

More than that, Patchell – who won the last of his five caps as a replacement against South Africa at the start of December – is viewed as a fly-half capable of offering the creativity and running threat Wales are seeking, but alongside defensive authority.

Pivac says that model of No.10 is the type he always looks for – and he sees it in Patchell.

“Whilst I’m at the Scarlets it’s a running five-eighth (fly-half), who can cover the ground quickly, who can challenge defences, take the ball to the line, create space for the players outside him and doesn’t cramp the outside backs,” says Pivac.

“He’s got a nice passing game, a big boot and he’s a big guy, so there’s no reason why he can’t knock guys over.

“Rhys been very good for us over the last couple of years and you can see that the move has been a success. He’s not the finished product, he knows that, but he’s a diligent worker and you’ll continue to see him develop.

“He also has great versatility that enables him to play in more than just one position.”

Pivac would also be pleased to see another in-form Scarlet, James Davies, picked at openside flanker, although he is likely to miss out to Justin Tipuric.

“Rhys Patchell and James Davies are both playing well and have put runs on the board,” added Pivac.

“We are hopeful they will get the recognition they deserve, but you have some very experienced coaches there with Wales and they will select the players they think can do the job at this moment in time.”

The Wales line-up looks set to be dominated by players from European Champions Cup quarter-finalists, the Scarlets and it is possible they could have a double figure representation.

But Wales are hopeful that a Scarlets old boy, wing George North, will be in the selection mix. The Northampton player has endured an injury-hit season and is on the comeback trail from a knee problem suffered late last month.

He was involved for Saints in their European Champions Cup clash against Saracens nine days ago, but withdrew from the team just before an Anglo-Welsh Cup appointment with Sale Sharks two days ago.

North has not featured for Wales since the final game of last season’s Six Nations.

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said: “George has trained pretty hard with us last week, and he didn’t feel quite right last Saturday. Hopefully, he will be involved for selection this week.”

A fully fit North would give Wales a timely boost, especially given their injury-riddled Six Nations preparations.

Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies, Rhys Webb and Dan Lydiate will miss the whole tournament, while the likes of Biggar and Taulupe Faletau are unlikely to be available until the final two games against Italy and France in March.

Saracens star Liam Williams is thought to be another major concern.


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