With the Autumn Internationals set to kick off in just a few weeks and having already done Stuart Lancaster and his team a favour the In The Loose writers thought they would give Warren Gatland a helping hand and select their starting XV for the first Wales game this autumn.

The views of Sam Verrals (SV), Debbie Knight (DK), Scott Fessey (SF) and Dave Nicoll (DN) can be found below. Let us know what you think about our selections and who you would start for Wales.

Full Back – Leigh Halfpenny


15. Leigh Halfpenny- One of the world’s finest Full Backs and most precise goal kickers. His dominant Lions  performances demonstrated his International pedigree further. He is Wales’ rock. If fit, he is always first choice. SV

15. Leigh Halfpenny – The first name on my list, far and away the best of the Lions, he proved a fullback with everything including an awesome kicking boot! DK

15. Leigh Halfpenny  – no need to explain why!! Best fullback in the northern hem. SF

15. Leigh Halfpenny – The Welsh back 3 pretty much picks itself at the moment, Halfpenny first name on the team sheet for me. DN


Right Wing – Alex Cuthbert


14. Alex Cuthbert- A best of a Winger who is a terrific finisher. Another experienced Lion who will break the defensive line over and over again. SV

14. Alex Cuthbert – The second half of an awesome wing duo, in common with North he’s incredibly strong as well as fast! DK

14. Alex Cuthbert – lost a bit of form but took a great try last Friday still one of their best. SF

14. Alex Cuthbert – His try the other week proved just what a lethal finisher he can be. His tries could be key in the upcoming games. DN


Outside Centre – Jonathan Davies


13. Jonathan Davies- Proved he can compete with the best after a solid performance in the 3rd Lions test and has been solid for Scarlets so far. SV

13. Jonathan Davies – Davies was a revelation during the British Lions tour, a strong centre with a good set of hands.

13. Jonathan Davies – on the back of an excellent Lions tour. SF

13. Jonathan Davies – An excellent performance in the final Lions test showed he had much more to his game than just boshing it up the centre.  Could be key to unleashing the giants on the wing.


Inside Centre – Scott Williams


12. Scott Williams – With Roberts likely to miss the tests through injury, Davies’ Scarlets Centre colleague is still only 22 and has had plenty of International experience. The pacey, strong Centre needs game time in order to develop for 2015. SV

12. Jamie Roberts – I haven’t had a chance to watch Roberts in France, but I think the clear difference in training regimes will benefit him as a player, no shock at 12 from me. DK

12. Ashley Beck – looking good for ospreys got a good chance with Roberts sidelined SF

12. Scott Williams – With Roberts likely out of the AI’s there was the temptation to try North at 12 but this seems the perfect opportunity to give Williams his chance ahead of RWC 2015. DN
Left Wing – George North


11. George North- He is a huge, speedy giant of a Winger. He will create holes in the defence and will score plenty of tries. A game changing player! SV

11. George North – In the words of Owen Farrell, George is just a freak! In a good way of course. He’s only 21, fitness allowing I think he has his name on this shirt for years to come. D

11. George North – again don’t need to explain why, lethal finisher. SF

11. George North – Showed for the Lions exactly why he is one of the best wingers in the world. DN


Fly-half – Dan Biggar


10. Dan Biggar- A good start to the season with the Ospreys and plenty of points with the boot in their impressive performance against Connacht, Biggar has the passing and kicking ability that suits Wales’ game. His consistency pips him over Priestland. SV

10. Dan Biggar– I think Wales have had a few issues at Fly Half in recent years, Rhys Priestland has struggled to find consistency at international level. Biggar has started the year well, I think he’ll be in the starting line up. DK

10. Dan Biggar – struggled a bit at fly half, not to convinced but just edges Priestland on last few performances. SF

10. Rhys Patchell – Although still inexperienced at international level, Patchell looks to have all the attributes that could make him Wales’ leading man in the World Cup. It therefore makes sense to give him as much game time as possible between now and then. DN
Scrum-half – Mike Phillips


9. Mike Phillips- Adds even more physicality to an already muscle filled backline and he worries defenders when running round the fringes. SV

9. Lloyd Williams – A bit of a curve ball here, and I think I may be a bit early and Phillips will start. But, I need a surprise pick, here he is the Cardiff Blues scrum half! DK

9. Mike Phillips – whatever your views on him still think his size strength and speed give him the edge over rivals. SF

9. Mike Phillips – The experience of a player like Phillips could be key with a few inexperienced players possibly coming into the backline.


Loosehead Prop – Gethin Jenkins


1. Gethin Jenkins – Still a fine Loose Head, Gethin is now back in Wales and would be the first pillar of an experienced but classy Front Row. SV

1. Gethin Jenkins –  Any prop good enough for Toulon is good enough for Wales.DK

1. Gethin Jenkins –  great mobile unit, good in the loose and tight. SF

1. Gethin Jenkins – A mainstay of the Welsh team for years now, his experience and leadership are a bonus for any team. DN


Hooker – Richard Hibbard


2. Richard Hibbard- He adds a aggressiveness and terrier like attitude to the pack. A hard man who puts his head on the line. Still the best Wales have to offer. Needs to sort his throwing out though, pronto. SV

2. Matthew Rees –  Rees is a more athletic hooker than Hibbard, and sorry, that hair! DK

2. Richard Hibbard – good lions tour, accurate and strong with a thick head (just ask George smith!) SF

2. Richard Hibbard – Hibbard seems to have now finally established himself as Wales’ go-to-hooker. His hard running and scrummaging are a great asset. DN


Tighthead Prop – Adam Jones


3. Adam Jones- Scrummaging machine. Can demolish opposing Front Row’s and adds an important leadership quality to the side. Outstanding in Australia. SV

3. Adam Jones  – The hair bear is one of the best props in the world for me, another of those ‘are you really a professional sportsmen?’ It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on with the new scrum scenario! DK

3. Adam Jones  – solid dependable scrummager, handy around the fringes. SF

3. Adam Jones – Quite possibly the best tighthead in the world currently. Any international coach would likely give their right arm to have a play like Jones in their side.


Lock – Alun Wyn Jones


4. Alun Wyn Jones – Still only 28, Wyn Jones is a solid Lineout jumper and carries lots of ball to help give Wales a platform. He’s the sort of player who leads by example. SV

4. Alun Wyn Jones  – A great 2nd row who always gives his all for his country.DK

4. Alun Wyn Jones – great player, doesn’t put a foot wrong. SF

4. Alun Wyn Jones – A great leader who makes himself known all around the field. The type of enforcer all top international teams need. DN


Lock – Ian Evans


5. Ian Evans – Does the basics well. So far has played better than Coombs in the Pro12. SV

5. Ian Evans – Evans has struggled with injury over the years but cemented his place in the Wales starting line up in 2013 and went on the British Lions tour. South African born he has started 38 times for Wales.DK

5. Ian Evans – plays the big ball carrier well, put himself around the park. SF

5. Ian Evans – A solid and reliable player who offers plenty of height for the line-out. DN


Blindside Flanker – Dan Lydiate


6. Dan Lydiate- I like Lydiate because he is a huge defensive asset. His Chop Tackling ability can stop attackers from gaining too many yards. His work rate is immense. SV

6. Dan Lydiate – Wales have at least 3 exciting flankers hard to pick between them, Lydiate takes the number 6 shirt in my team.DK

6. Sam Warburton – getting back to form, prefer him at blindside. SF

6. Dan Lydiate – Whilst it was tempting to squeeze two 7’s in again the physical presence of Lydiate around the pitch is key to ensuing Warburton can make the most of his talents. DN


Openside Flanker – Sam Warburton


7. Sam Warburton- Barley ever notice him on the pitch, which always goes in an Openside’s favour.  He is still a wonderful talent and a democratic leader who is respected by his fellow compatriots. SV

7. Sam Warburton – Very hard to leave captain Sam on the bench, I’m not sure he’s the best no 7, I was very tempted to put Tipuric here, however Warburton is clearly a great leader who inspires others to give their best.DK

7. Justin Tipuric – classy natural seven, good link player. SF

7. Sam Warburton – Will come under pressure immediately if he doesn’t perform but showed in the second Lions test what an outstanding 7 he is. DN


Number 8 – Toby Faletau


8. Toby Faletau- Not enough competition for the 8 shirt. Toby is reliable and makes numerous carries and tackles every game. SV

8. Toby Faletau – So often No 8 is the key player on the pitch, Faletau, a lock who started on the wing is an exciting player, his speed gives an extra dimension to the pack. DK

8. Toby Faletau – big mobile ball carrying back rower, found form again. SF

8. Toby Faletau – He might not be the biggest 8 out there but his ability to make hard yards ball-in-hand is truly unbelievable.

Let us know who would be in your Welsh starting XV below…