Wales are 9/2 to beat New Zealand for the first time ever in the Autumn International series, with the All Blacks at 1/8 to win their 38th game out of 42 since lifting the World Cup in 2011. It’s that stark for Warren Gatland’s side.
But impossible? Of course not, there are always three things you can do:
Ditch Rhys Priestland
To be fair to Gatland, the struggling Scarlets man has already been sent home ahead of the All Blacks’ visit, after he failed to fully stretch Fiji in Wales’ edgy 17-13 win last time out, while also being at least partly culpable for the Pacific Islanders’ try.
Unfortunately, the Kiwi has reverted to Dan Biggar at 10, when it may have been wise to finally…
Use James Hook
In spite of Wales’ inability to conjure up a fly-half of note since Stephen Jones retired from international duty three years ago, Hook can’t get a look in any more under Gatland, although he makes the squad most of the time.
A utility-back who has scored more than 1800 points in 200 club rugby matches has a mere 350 in 76 outings in the Test arena, most of which have been from the bench since the last World Cup. Can Wales afford to go into the All-Blacks clash with a playmaker as good as Hook on the sidelines?
The Gloucester man’s relatively slight build can lead to struggles in defence, but that could be counter-balanced if Gatland would only…
Switch George North to centre
It would be unfair to say the northern hemisphere’s brightest star will be wasted out wide, but with professional boxer/rugby league lock Sonny Bill Williams likely to start at centre for the All Blacks, North’s brutal physicality would be better served infield.
Jonathan Davies, who will make his first Wales appearance since June after an injury lay-off, could have been sacrificed for utility-back Liam Williams, who has shown plenty of promise in 16 tests so far and would fancy his chances against would-be counterpart Ben Smith on the wing.
Alas, Gatland has stuck with the man whom he placed his faith in during the triumphant third British and Irish Lions’ Test in Australia two summers ago, but Williams is on the bench, so the Kiwi coach could change tack mid-match if no ball is making its way out wide.
Failing all that, Wales could just pray Steve Hansen makes no changes to the team that narrowly beat Scotland, but we wouldn’t hold our breath.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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