Taine Basham

Taine Basham of Wales. Pic: Getty Images.

Wales’ Star Taine Basham Could Yet Land Big Blow On England’s Owen Farrell If World Rugby Step In

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By Paul Jones

Bashed-up Taine Basham will be on the bench for Wales this Saturday, but Owen Farrell could still be in trouble over his tackle.

Dragons forward Basham is among the replacements for Wales against South Africa, when he might have been starting in a final trial to convince he is worthy of a place at the World Cup.

Basham was at the centre of controversy last weekend when he failed a head injury assessment after clattering into the shoulder of attempted tackler, England fly-half Farrell, though no symptoms of concussion were later found by the Wales medical team.

A stringent three stage protocol was followed and Basham was given the all-clear this week.

Farrell, who has had problems with his tackle technique in the past, received a red card during the match, which was later surprisingly reduced to a yellow by an independent disciplinary committee.

But he may not yet be in the clear, pending a possible appeal from World Rugby.

The governing body have now received the full written decision from the independent judicial committee who overturned Farrell’s red card from last Saturday’s and are reviewing it with a window of 48 hours until Friday in which to lodge an appeal.

Scrum-half Kieran Hardy gets a first start of the warm-up games and a chance to impress before coach Warren Gatland names his squad for the World Cup on Monday.

Hardy will have experienced flyhalf Dan Biggar alongside him, while Mason Grady partners Johnny Williams in the midfield.

Liam Williams is at fullback, with Alex Cuthbert and Rio Dyer on either wing.

Captain Jac Morgan and Dan Lydiate are the flankers, with Aaron Wainwright at number eight, and the duo of Ben Carter and Will Rowlands in the second row.

Elliot Dee is the starting hooker with rookie props Corey Domachowski and Keiron Assiratti either side of him.

“We’re really pleased with the whole squad. We’re trying to build some depth within the team and there’s been a great atmosphere,” Gatland said.

“In the first couple of games what was really pleasing for me was the physicality we brought and the way we defended. There are still things for us to work on in terms of being much more accurate.

“We’re expecting confidence and physicality from South Africa. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. We just need to make sure we play for 80 minutes and are accurate for 80 minutes.”

Wales beat England 20-9 in Cardiff 11 days ago, and narrowly lost the return at Twickenham 19-17 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, former Wales wing Mark Jones has grown tired of waiting to hear if the WRU were going to make him the permanent Wales U20 coach and instead join the Ospreys as their new defence coach.

Jones had done a widely acclaimed rescue job with the Wales youngsters at the U20 World Championship after a disastrous Six Nations, but the call to upgrade his role never came.

He will join the Ospreys as a first team coach, with his role focusing on the team’s defence.

Jones said: “I can’t wait to get started. There’s a talented group of boys here, with some incredible young prospects that I’ve already had the pleasure of working with.

“I’m truly excited for the opportunity to help drive the defensive strategies of the Ospreys and I’m looking forward to contributing wherever I can towards the team being the best team it can be.”

Huw Bevan, Interim Performance Director for the WRU, added: “Mark did a fantastic job as interim head coach of the U20s programme.

“His enthusiasm and attention to detail, underpinned what was an excellent outcome at the U20 World Rugby Championship in South Africa.

“I know Mark appreciated the opportunity to work in the age grade programme and enjoyed working with a talented group of players and dedicated support staff.

Ospreys head coach Toby Booth, said: “We believe Mark’s experience in different environments will be invaluable for us. His tenure as the Crusaders defence coach certainly caught our eye.

“Defence is a key area of improvement for us and we are looking forward to working with Mark to improve this key area of our game.

“Mark’s recent experience as Wales u20s head coach was definitely another plus for us. His commitment to developing young talent aligns seamlessly with our long-term strategy as a region and coaching staff.”

“I am delighted that he has been appointed as a first team coach with the Ospreys following on from his role with the U20s. It is a fantastic opportunity which I am sure he will embrace with his usual commitment and energy and it’s great to be able to keep a man of his talents in Welsh rugby.”

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