Robert Howley: Interim Wales coach faces tough selections, says Jonathan Davies

Robert Howley gives instructions at Wales training in New Zealand in June, 2016
Robert Howley gives instructions during a Wales training session in New Zealand in June, 2016

Rob Howley faces a tough job as interim Wales coach during Warren Gatland's absence with the British and Irish Lions, says Jonathan Davies.

The former Wales fly-half believes Howley has key selection issues if Wales continue the expansive style employed against New Zealand in June.

Wales face Australia, Argentina, Japan and South Africa in November.

"I do think it's a bit of a grenade for him because expectations will be high," Davies said on BBC Wales' Scrum V.

"Australia are not going well, Wales will expect to beat Argentina and Japan so maybe three out of four, or four from four - that's the expectation aspect of it."

On demand: Watch Scrum V Sunday

Wales lost all three Tests against New Zealand in the summer, but impressed ex-All Blacks scrum-half Justin Marshall who said their tactics were a revelation.

Davies believes Wales will only continue the style change if they believe it can win Test matches.

And he thinks established players like Dan Biggar and Jamie Roberts will be at the heart of selection issues facing Howley if that is the case.

"Will they change their style?" he asked.

"If they think they can win playing the style they have, then I'm sure they'll go with the same combinations and same style of football with a little bit of tweaking.

"If they are going to change it drastically they are going to have to change personnel.

Dan Biggar and Jamie Roberts
Dan Biggar has yet to play for the Lions while Jamie Roberts has been on two tours

"The way that Sam Davies plays - he plays on the front foot - Dan hasn't played enough yet so we'll have to see how Dan's form comes.

"The Blues are going well with [fly-half Gareth] Anscombe. Do you put Scott Williams in or do you ask Jamie Roberts to play a little bit differently?

"The two crucial areas of selection will be 10 and 12, those are the ones who will orchestrate how Wales want to play.

"Liam Williams will have to be nailed on full-back and Leigh Halfpenny on the wing so those are the changes that are going to be crucial to this autumn."

Howley is deputising for Gatland for the second time, having been in charge during the New Zealander's first stint as Lions coach in 2013.

Gatland coached Wales for autumn 2012 defeats by the All Blacks and Wallabies with Howley in charge for wins over Argentina and Samoa and the successful 2013 Six Nations campaign.

Davies contends Howley is now solely in charge of Wales for this season.

"And now his stamp is going to be on it. In 2013 Gatland was overseeing it. Now it's up to Rob and I wish him well.

"And I hope that he does make a few changes and we do evolve a little bit and we play a little bit differently."

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