Warren Gatland has seven days to weigh up temptations and make brave calls

Warren Gatland
-Credit: (Image: 2023 CameraSport)


In seven days' time, Warren Gatland will name his squad for the summer tour of Australia.

The Wales coach likely has the majority of his squad decided, but in this final week, there's bound to be things still to sort for Gatland.

For starters, there are fitness test results to ponder.

Last week, players from all four regions underwent the 'Bronco' test, which typically consists of running shuttles of 20, 40 and then 60 metres as fast as they can, five times.

"Some are tomorrow, some are Thursday, the regions are doing that," said Gatland on the Rugby Pod. "The positive thing about that is we want to know where they are coming in for us before we go on tour.

"We’ve got this game against South Africa at Twickenham and then two really challenging Test matches and playing the Reds in Brisbane.

"For the regions it’s a starting point and looking where they are from a conditioning point of view before they have a bit of a break and before they start pre-season. It’s setting targets about where we want them as a group to get to."

For some, it could be a chance to show the Wales coaches why they're worth a punt. For others, it might answer any questions about them the Welsh coaches might hold.

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As well as the results of those fitness tests, there's injuries to monitor as well. Some - like Adam Beard, Teddy Williams and Rhys Davies - are already out of the tour.

That leaves second-row looking light for the South Africa match at Twickenham, with the likes of Daf Jenkins, Will Rowlands and Christ Tshiunza also unavailable.

Someone like James Fender, the Ospreys lock who would have been in consideration for the Six Nations were it not for an arm injury in January, could be a contender - but he's not back in training as yet. So, in the next week, Gatland will likely need to get a read on Fender's fitness.

He'll also need to make a final call on any left-field selections. There's long been talk about some senior faces coming back in after the wooden spoon, with Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams and Cory Hill all linked at one point or another.

Anscombe has ruled himself out, but the relative lack of back-three and second-row options could tempt Gatland to bring the other two along.

There's also new faces to consider. Eddie James, Jacob Beetham, Theo Cabango, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Keelan Giles, Morgan Morse, Ryan Woodman and Josh Hathaway are just some of the uncapped players to consider.

Then there's someone like Morgan Morris. Will Gatland alter his thinking on the Ospreys No. 8? Judgement Day could factor into his thinking. Any last-minute stand-out performances at Cardiff City Stadium could be enough to earn a place on the plane Down Under.

Certainly, when Gatland and his coaches meet to put the finishing touches on his squad, Judgement Day will be fresh in the mind.

Finally, when it comes to the squad announcement, Gatland will be hoping for a less chaotic announcement than earlier in the year. There'll be no NFL-bound players next week, hopefully.

That's one less thing for the Wales coach to factor in, at least.