Wales coach Warren Gatland knows he will crush dreams with World Cup squad call

Warren Gatland knows all too well the pain he will inflict on nine unlucky Welshmen when he reveals his World Cup squad on Sunday.   

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Against Ireland his probables are rested, with the possibles given their final chance in his last Test in Cardiff on Saturday.

Step up Rhys Carré, Bradley Davies, James Davies, Jarrod Evans, Owen Watkin, Scott Williams, Steff Evans, Hallam Amos, Owen Lane, Leon Brown, Rhys Patchell and Jonah Holmes.

Wales coach Warren Gatland will reveal his 31-man World Cup squad on Sunday

Wales coach Warren Gatland will reveal his 31-man World Cup squad on Sunday

Realistically only three of that 12 playing will make the 31-man squad.

So it is make-yourself-a-hero time, and Gatland is aware that he will play the part of dream maker and crusher.

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‘It’s tough because I know first-hand what it’s like to miss out on a World Cup,’ he said.

‘In 1991 I had been involved with the All Blacks and we’d just come back from an undefeated tour of Argentina which I’d been involved in.

Flanker Josh Navidi has been handed the captaincy for Gatland's final Test match in Cardiff

Flanker Josh Navidi has been handed the captaincy for Gatland's final Test match in Cardiff

Flanker Josh Navidi has been handed the captaincy for Gatland’s final Test match in Cardiff

‘A couple of months later we came back and I wasn’t selected in the squad watching it live on TV.

‘I know how disappointed those players who aren’t selected are going to be when they watch the squad on Sunday.

‘Having spoken to the players I think they are pretty well aware of the opportunity on Saturday and to be fair they have made a lot of progress in the 12 or 13 weeks together.

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‘The camps have been fantastic and we’ve been very impressed with the players. Sometimes you get one chance and for some of them that chance is on Saturday.’ Gatland does not want to make this match about him, but it will be his last Test as home head coach in the Principality Stadium.

Eleven-and-a-half years after his Cardiff bow, his players want to give Gatland the best possible send-off with a 12th consecutive home win.

Captain for the day Josh Navidi said: ‘What he has achieved has been huge.

‘He’s been a big part of rugby, and what he has brought to Welsh rugby is second to none. Hopefully we give him a nice home send-off and then can concentrate on the World Cup.’

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Gatland will hope he picks up no further injuries at the Principality Stadium today against a fired-up Irish side intent on putting to bed their horrendous 57-15 defeat to England last week.

And the New Zealander – after his 117th Welsh Test – will then gather his coaches at the team hotel for a last-minute brain-racking selection meeting before revealing his picks to the world on Sunday at 2pm.

Only the players not selected will be texted, called, emailed or sent a WhatsApp message before that announcement. One man who will be ogling his mobile phone all Sunday will be Jarrod Evans.

Jarrod Evans will be among the players trying to impress against Ireland on Saturday

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The Cardiff Blues fly-half plays in only his third Test, and starts knowing one strong 40 minutes could see him picked now that team-mate Gareth Anscombe is out with a knee injury.

Either he or Rhys Patchell – who will play the second half – will make it.

Navidi has backed his regional mate to impress.

‘He’s a fantastic player that I rate really highly,’ said the skipper of Evans.

‘As long as we get good front-foot and the ball on a plate for him then it will be happy days, and hopefully we don’t put him under too much pressure. He has the skill-set, so it’ll be nice to see him let loose at home.

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It could be a taxing day for players like Evans worried about selection, as well as gelling together in a Test.

‘It is just trying to perform the best you can and putting your best foot forward,’ said the 21-year-old.

‘That’s the biggest challenge for us is how quickly we can come together as a team with 14 changes, with a few new caps, me making my first start, a new captain… so there’s a lot to cram in really.

‘But we all looking forward to it and going out there and showing what we can do.

‘That’s all you can do. The style we play at the Blues, more than anything, the attacking style, I like to say I can bring that to the game.

‘We are still all fighting for that spot on the plane, really.’ 

 

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