Wales boss Warren Gatland is optimistic that star back-row forward Taulupe Faletau will be available for selection in the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Faletau, who has achieved 100 caps for Wales, is currently sidelined due to a calf muscle injury and will not be taking part in any warm-up matches. Although he will not be playing against England or South Africa, Gatland stated that Faletau is progressing well in his recovery and should be ready for selection. In addition, centre Johnny Williams and wing Alex Cuthbert are expected to be available for the match against South Africa. However, fly-half Gareth Anscombe will not be participating due to a thumb injury sustained during training.
As the deadline for the final World Cup squad approaches, Gatland expressed confidence in the mindset of the players. He stated that he expects them to be eager to perform and believes that they are psychologically prepared. Gatland also acknowledged that selection for the World Cup squad may be challenging for players who have not yet featured in the summer Tests. He emphasized that these individuals would need exceptional performances in order to secure a spot. Gatland dismissed any thoughts of regret regarding the previously rumored position of England head coach, stating that he is content with his current role.
Gatland did, however, express admiration for England fly-half Marcus Smith, praising his talent and character. He believes that Smith has the potential to become a world-class player and hopes that young fans will be inspired by him and aspire to emulate his success. Looking ahead to the World Cup, Wales will face Australia in a crucial pool match on September 24. Gatland commented on Australia’s recent performance in the Rugby Championship, noting that they did not secure a victory. He also mentioned that England coach Eddie Jones has made surprising selections in his World Cup squad, but remains positive about their capabilities.
Overall, Gatland is optimistic about Wales’ chances in the World Cup and is confident in the abilities and mindset of his players. He believes that they have shown positive signs and are fully aware of the stakes involved. As the selection process intensifies, Gatland expects players to rise to the challenge, especially those who have faced injury setbacks. He is enthusiastic about the future of rugby and hopes to see more players like Marcus Smith emerge as influential figures in the sport.