By Rhys Thomas
August 19 2011
Wales v Argentina promises to be a tasty encounter ahead of the World Cup
Wales go into their final RWC warm-up match against Argentina with a relatively new look team. Byrne, Halfpenny, Hibbard, Powell, Adam Jones and Martyn Williams all get their first starts of the warm-up series. For Martyn in particular, it is a big chance to put his hand up for World Cup selection. This will be his 99th cap, and his century is within touching distance. He has lost his starting place at both the Blues and Wales to Sam Warburton, and will desperately want to salvage one last World Cup place before his career comes to an end.
Ryan Jones has been ruled out of this game with a calf injury, which is a big blow as I see him as our starting Number 8 at the RWC – but he really needed to start a game before the tournament began. Andy Powell has controversially been brought in, with the Sale back-row man being expelled from London Wasps earlier this season. This is also a big chance for him, he’s fallen out of favour in recent times, and Gatland has put a lot of faith in him picking him to start here. Hopefully he will repay Warren with an outstanding performance!
This game isn’t going to be a walk in the park. The Argentina team that has been selected is very strong, with old hands Roncero and Ledesma in the front row, and the mercurial Felipe Contepomi captains the team from 10. The team is littered with players who star for the big French clubs, and if our scrum is as bad as last week, it will surely be a disaster. Hopefully the returning Lion Adam Jones will steady the ship.
I think Wales will win, but it won’t be as clear cut as many think. Hook vs Contepomi should be a great battle, and it is right that Hook is put back in the number 10 shirt, partly due to his performance last week. The set piece will be interesting to watch - we need to front up at scrum time and at the lineout. Argentina are one of the world’s best set piece teams, and we need to be at our best to beat them.
PREDICTION: Wales to win by 11