'Warren Gatland knows his best Wales team' for Rugby World clash with France
By James Cole, Sky Sports News reporter
Last Updated: 18/10/19 5:20pm
Sky Sports News reporter James Cole analyses Wales' squad announcement ahead of their last-eight World Cup clash in Oita versus France.
This Welsh team is now looking very settled. Warren Gatland knows his best team - and this is it.
As expected, he is stuck with the same men who got over the line in their crucial pool game against Australia, almost three weeks ago.
- 'Wales in confident mood for France QF'
- Biggar, Davies named for Wales
- 'Wales set up for World Cup glory'
With Jonathan Davies (knee), Hadleigh Parkes (shoulder), George North (ankle) and Dan Biggar (head) all passing fitness tests, there was never really any question over who he would pick.
Of the four injury doubts, Lions centre Jonathan Davies provides the biggest boost for Wales.
He is one of those players they simply cannot afford to be without. When Davies limped off against Fiji, you feared the worst.
Speaking to Sky Sports News last week, former England centre Will Greenwood described him as "irreplaceable".
His partnership with Hadleigh Parkes was a big factor behind Wales' Six Nations Grand Slam triumph.
If they are to make it to the World Cup final - of which they are definitely capable - then these two need to be fully fit and at their best.
Gatland on centres Parkes and Davies: "Hadleigh ran on Wednesday but we kept him out of the rugby and then he took a full part in today's training session. They're both fit. They're obviously a little bit sore but they'll be ready to go on Sunday."
Wainwright the right man
Aaron Wainwright has usurped Ross Moriarty in the back row pecking order - as he did against Australia.
This is absolute confirmation that Gatland and his coaches believe Wales' best backrow combination is him, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric.
Wainwright is just 22-years-old and only made his regional debut two years ago. But he is a class act and is very highly rated by his coaches. It's been some rise - Wainwright will keep climbing.
Moriarty remains a great option off of the bench; expect some shuddering hits from the Dragons backrower when he enters the fray!
Question: "Warren, did you have much of a discussion about the back row with Ross Moriarty missing out?
Gatland: "No. Not really."
Dan Biggar MRI
Dan Biggar's concussion against Fiji was a particularly nasty one. There were a few different impacts before his head hit the ground.
So it's very reassuring to hear from Wales Rugby Union (WRU) that he has had an MRI and seen a specialist.
No matter how important he is to Wales' hopes of reaching the semi-final, no risk should ever be taken when it comes to brain injuries.
WRU on Biggar: "Dan has remained symptom-free since the game and has completed the graduated return to play with no issues. Management has included MRI scanning and two consultations with a globally renowned Independent Concussion Consultant from Australia."
Gatland on Biggar: "We're taking all the precautions. He's desperate to play but we've been conscious in the past with George North, who had a few knocks. If he gets a knock in the next couple of games or next couple of months, obviously there will be a different course of action."
The French Connection
I remember vividly Wales' World Cup semi-final defeat to France in 2011.
I was at Eden Park that day and - as the rain came lashing down just before kick-off - I recall being concerned.
Next came Sam Warburton's red card; and from there it all spiralled.
Wales remained in the game and Leigh Halfpenny had a penalty to win it, near the halfway line, late on.
It wasn't to be for Wales that day - but a win on Sunday would firmly confine it to history.
Question: "What are your best and worst memories of playing against France?"
Gatland: "The worst memory is the World Cup semi-final in 2011. The best memory? I'm not sure… This Sunday."