Warren Gatland's final big calls as he tells Wales players the team

-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)
-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)

With just six days until Wales take on Australia in the first Test of their summer tour in Sydney, Warren Gatland has a few key selection calls to make.

You wouldn't expect Gatland to change too much from the side which went down fighting against South Africa last week, but there are still a few positions up for grabs. It'll be intriguing to see what Gatland decides to do with Christ Tshiunza, who was absent for the entire Six Nations with a foot injury.

The 22-year-old hasn't really made his mark on Test rugby yet but he is a supreme athlete. Tshiunza has previously been considered a blindside with his physicality and athleticism, coupled with his lineout prowess, more suited to the backrow at Test level.

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But with injuries at lock Gatland could consider Tshiunza at second-row alongside Dafydd Jenkins with the impressive Taine Plumtree wearing the number six jersey. Tshiunza has recently spoken about how he has put on a stone to go up to 18 and a half stone.

Dragons lock Ben Carter, who impressed against South Africa, finishing the game as top tackler, is probably the favourite to start at second-row but employing Tshiunza at lock could give Wales a more athletic dimension up front. "A six who can move up to four gives you massive options on your bench but it can also provide so much of your physicality in that area," said Wales forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys.

"I think a six and a four. There's not a massive difference in what you are asking from them; one's clearly in the scrum and one's not.
"But to be interchangeable between them, I definitely think he's a four and a six player but he's also athletic enough to play six on its own."

Of course, it is all about the balance but an athletic and dynamic lock like Tshiunza could work well alongside his Exeter Chiefs team-mate Jenkins, who is a real grafter, while Cory Hill cannot be discounted completely should he prove his fitness.

Talking of balance, the other key decision Gatland will have to make is in midfield. The partnership of Mason Grady and Owen Watkin was a mixed bag at Twickenham. Grady is a player with huge potential and Wales are in desperate need of players who can beat defenders, while also getting over the gainline.

Watkin is a good nuts and bolts player but does he offer enough of a cutting edge in attack? The other option in midfield is to go hell for leather by pairing Eddie James and Grady together.

That partnership would have huge potential but the lack of overall experience may stay Gatland's hand for the time being. Gatland also needs to decide whether to keep faith in Ellis Bevan, who made a decent debut against the Springboks, or opt for the experience of Gareth Davies or even Kieran Hardy.

Wales will want a fast start to catch the Wallabies cold in their first game under new head coach Joe Schmidt and Davies might be the better option this time around. One area where Wales have faltered badly of late has been at scrum time and with both Henry Thomas and Keiron Assiratti sidelined with injury, tighthead prop has to be a concern.

Assuming he is fully fit, Dillon Lewis' experience might well give the Harlequins prop the nod to start against the Wallabies. But the Wales management are big fans of Bath prop Archie Griffin, who they believe has the potential to develop into a top-end Test match scrummager, while Harri O'Connor is the other option at tighthead.

If Lewis has recovered from a back problem then the smart money is on him starting with Griffin used as a replacement in the final quarter. But Wales are in desperate need of a young tighthead who can dominate in the scrum to come through and put pressure on Lewis, Thomas and potentially Tomas Francis moving forward.

Put simply if Wales can hold their own at the set-piece in Australia they stand a chance of winning at least one Test match this summer.