Gatland undecided on No.9 for first Wallabies Test


Wales coach Warren Gatland has a pleasant selection headache to solve in Sydney.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has a pleasant selection headache to solve in Sydney.

Ellis Bevan is ready to push for a Wales starting place in Australia after embracing the challenge posed by double World Cup winner Faf de Klerk.

Bevan will be in the halfback selection mix as Wales head coach Warren Gatland considers his options for Saturday’s first Test against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Gatland also has experienced No.9s Gareth Davies and Kieran Hardy available to him as Wales prepare for a two-match series plus an appointment with Queensland Reds.

Bevan headed Down Under following a Test debut against world champions South Africa at Twickenham that pitched the 24-year-old Cardiff player opposite Springboks halfback De Klerk.

“It was something I was really looking forward to and wanted to embrace, coming up against a double World Cup winner on my debut,” Bevan said.

“If I wanted to get to where he is, I have to come up against the best.

“He told me that I had a good game and said to keep going. He was kind enough to give me his shirt, and we had a photo in the changing room. He is a good guy on and off the field.”

South Africa and Wales players during anthems.
The Springboks and Wales sides line up for the national anthems at Twickenham. (AP PHOTO)

English-born Bevan, whose father hails from Swansea, never had any doubt where his international aspirations would centre on.

“It has always been Wales,” he added.

“It is not something that has been a question for me. I know I am true to myself when I say that.”

Bevan’s father, stepmother, girlfriend, aunties, uncles and friends from Solihull and Bryanston were all among his supporters against South Africa.

Bevan is also quick to praise the influence on him of ex-Cardiff halfbacks and fellow Wales internationals Tomos Williams and Lloyd Williams as he made his way in the game.

“I went in there (Cardiff) as a 20-year-old boy still at university, and I had Tomos and Lloyd Williams to learn off, and I could not have asked for better people,” he said.

“There are three of us in the squad (in Australia), and the other two guys are quality scrum halves.

“If I can have a career half as good as Gareth and Kieran have had, then I will be doing all right.” 

Gatland’s resources have increased considerably for the Australia series, with several England-based players who missed the South Africa game because it fell outside World Rugby’s summer Test window now available. 

That contingent includes forwards Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza, plus flanker Tommy Reffell and centre Nick Tompkins, as Gatland targets a first win against the Wallabies in Australia since 1969.

Wales have suffered 11 successive defeats on Australian soil, including losses such as 63-6 (1991), 42-3 (1996) and 31-0 (2007).

Gatland’s team, meanwhile, have not won a Test match since beating Georgia during the 2023 World Cup pool phase, suffering seven defeats on the bounce.