Preview: Wales v Uruguay

No team has ever won the World Cup without winning every pool game.

No team has ever won the World Cup without winning every pool game.

There is a chance by the end of this weekend that Wales are the only team with four wins from the pool stages.

Of course the cancelled matches make that statistic a little misleading, but it is unquestionably true that Wales have been one of the most impressive teams in Japan.

That they are flying under the radar is somewhat surprising considering that the Grand Slam champions have already beaten Australia and a dangerous Fiji side.

But Warren Gatland will not mind at all. Against Uruguay on Sunday in Kumamoto his team can clinch top spot in Pool D with a victory.

That would set up a quarter-final against France in Oita, and Gatland’s side should be well rested for that one, with 13 changes made for the clash against Los Teros.

Adam Beard and Bradley Davies both get their first chances of the World Cup, and their availability would increase the options for the game against Les Bleus.

Elsewhere Justin Tipuric captains Wales for the first time, while Rhys Patchell will have a lot of responsibility at ten as the only fly-half in the matchday 23.

Wales have been hit by a few injuries in the backs, meaning that Gatland has gone with a 6-2 split on the bench, with the only replacement backs being scrum-halves Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies.

That should not matter, even against a Uruguay team who have surprised many so far in Japan and pulled off a famous victory against Fiji.

Wales will be looking for a third bonus-point success out of four however. Do that and they can start preparing for France.

Wales v Uruguay, Kumamoto, Sunday October 13, Kick-off 9:15AM (BST)

Wales coach Warren Gatland

“It’s a bit of a juggling act with the four-day turnaround. But we have a fresh forward pack and they’re excited and looking forward to the opportunity.

“The message to the players against Uruguay is that the door is not shut. There are opportunities for players to go out there and impress and stake a claim for a quarter-final spot.”

Wales captain Justin Tipuric

“It is obviously a great honour – to lead the boys is something special.

“I don’t really talk much, but if something needs to be said, you say something. Try and do your actions on the field, more than anything.”

Uruguay scrum-half Santiago Arata

“We want to have a good game against what we already know is a very difficult opponent. Regardless of which players line up for Wales, we want to leave Japan with our heads held high.”

Josh Adams is one of just two players who keeps his place from the team that beat Fiji, and the Wales winger will be looking to cement his position as the top try-scorer at the World Cup. His hat-trick in Oita took him to four tries, level with Japan’s Kotara Matsushima and Argentina’s Julian Montoya for the most so far in Japan. On Sunday he will go up against Nicolas Freitas, who was a constant threat with ball in hand in his last outing against Australia. Adams had to do his fair share of defensive work against Fiji, and while Freitas does not offer quite the same physical challenge as Josua Tuisova, Adams will need to be alert in defence as well as attack.

Wales: 15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. Josh Adams, 13. Owen Watkin, 12. Hadleigh Parkes, 11. Hallam Amos, 10. Rhys Patchell, 9. Aled Davies, 1. Nicky Smith, 2. Ryan Elias, 3. Dillon Lewis, 4. Bradley Davies, 5. Adam Beard, 6. Aaron Shingler, 7. Justin Tipuric (c), 8. Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Rhys Carre, 18. Wyn Jones, 19. Jake Ball, 20. Ross Moriarty, 21. James Davies, 22. Tomos Williams, 23. Gareth Davies

Uruguay: 15. Gaston Mieres, 14. Leandro Leivas, 13. Juan Manuel Cat, 12. Andres Vilaseca, 11. Nicolas Freitas, 10. Felipe Berchesi, 9. Santiago Arata, 1. Mateo Sanguinetti, 2. German Kessler, 3. Diego Arbelo, 4. Ignacio Dotti, 5. Manuel Leindekar, 6. Juan Manuel Gaminara (c), 7. Santiago Civetta, 8. Alejandro Nieto

Replacements: 16. Guillermo Pujadas, 17. Juan Echeverria, 18. Juan Pedro Rombys, 19. Diego Magno, 20. Manuel Diana, 21. Agustin Ormaechea, 22. Tomas Inciarte, 23. Rodrigo Silva