Warren Gatland has a Warning Over Wales Stars of the Future

Welsh rugby said farewell to a trio of big stars at the weekend, before Warren Gatland had a warning about how to handle the stars of tomorrow.

Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Leigh Halfpenny all played their final games at the Principality Stadium, although all three are heading in different directions.

Jones will be retiring from rugby altogether in a couple of weeks when his short-term contract in Toulon expires, Tipuric has given up his Wales days, but is playing on for the Ospreys, while Halfpenny has confirmed he is off to New Zealand to play for the mighty Crusaders in Super Rugby.

All three played – Halfpenny for Wales and the other two for the Barbarians – as Wales beat their opponents, 49-26.

But fresh faces have already emerged – players like captain Jac Morgan, Sam Costelow, Dewi Lake, Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza, who all have a World Cup in the locker.

And there are others who did not make Gatland’s squad cut for the World Cup in France who could be banging on his door sooner rather than later.

“We are pretty excited about some of the youngsters coming through,” said Wales coach Gatland.

“You have got to be patient with them, you have got to go through a little bit of pain.

“Probably some of the symmetry between the (Welsh) regions and us hasn’t been the same.

“Unfortunately, we have probably used the national team almost as a pathway (in) that we have developed those players through playing international rugby almost out of necessity because we’ve had a weakness in some positions.

“Then, because they end up playing international rugby and doing well, they then go back and they start for their regions. We have sometimes got that wrong.

“It is just making sure we work together as the regions and the national team in terms of where we have got holes and developing players.”

Some of the problems in the game in Wales were underlined as the Wales fixture clashed with a full regional weekend for the four Welsh teams.

The Ospreys made it two wins on the bounce in the BKT United Rugby Championship as they made the most of new surroundings at the Twickenham Stoop to beat the Sharks 19-5.

In the first URC fixture played on English soil, Toby Booth’s side built on their home win over Zebre the previous weekend as they made light of the loss of so many key players away on duty with both Wales and the Barbarians.

Up stepped former Wales U20 captain Harri Deaves to fill the No 7 jersey and combine with James Ratti and acting skipper Morgan Morris to dominate the back row battle against the South African side.

“They’re a big physical team and we were up against it at times. They came at us with everything, especially after half-time,” said Morris.

“Credit to the boys in the front five, they were outstanding and the work we did in the scrums and mauls was absolutely fantastic. Mark Jones, our defence coach, has had an amazing effect on us and our defence was good.

“We were in our 22 a lot but we didn’t give up and won a couple of penalties.”

The Scarlets put their South African woes from the opening two rounds well and truly behind them as they notched their first win of the season at Parc Y Scarlet – 31-25 against Cardiff.

Not only that, they scored four tries to earn a bonus point from a highly entertaining Welsh regional derby against a Cardiff side that had beaten them on their own patch last season.

Wales World Cup scrum half Gareth Davies, who was leading his home region for the first time in his illustrious career, was the star of the game as he scored one try and made another.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “It was a tough two weeks and coming back here, we were determined to put on a show. I am not sure if we did that, but we fought hard and it was good to get the win.”

Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt insisted: “There are narrow margins. I am very realistic in that I don’t get too emotive after we beat the Dragons or don’t feel too disheartened after defeats against Benetton or today.”

The under-strength Dragons were comfortably beaten, 45-14 away at Munster, but there were some aspects to comfort coach Dai Flanagan who was without 20 players through unavailability or injuries.

“We can learn lessons from this, but we have got to be much better,” said Flanagan.

“But I am just disappointed in our accuracy if I am being honest. The effort is always through the roof, but we need to be more accurate under pressure than we are.”