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Gatland considers creative spark

James Hook is one ball-playing option at centre for Wales
James Hook is one ball-playing option at centre for Wales

Wales coach Warren Gatland says he will look at the possibility of bringing a more creative player into midfield after a lacklustre November campaign.

A lack of tries has undermined Wales' recent efforts, culminating in the 33-12 loss to Australia on Saturday.

Jamie Roberts, Tom Shanklin, Jonathan Davies and Andrew Bishop - as a replacement against the Wallabies - have shared the Wales midfield duties.

"You've got to look at that [having a playmaker]," Gatland told Scrum V.

It seems likely that Roberts, the British and Irish Lions man of the series last summer against South Africa, will continue at centre so it is a question of who the Cardiff Blue is paired with.

James Hook has performed admirably as a stand-in full-back during the autumn internationals, but his Ospreys colleague Lee Byrne is likely to reclaim the 15 shirt for the Six Nations when he returns to fitness.

Gatland admits he may have to revisit playing Hook - a fly-half at heart but also adept at centre - in midfield.

Gatland looks back with Scrum V

"James has been playing a bit there [centre] for the Ospreys, he does give us that creativity," Gatland said.

"But I thought Andrew Bishop was pretty good when he came on [against Australia].

"You're right about perhaps a little more creativity in the midfield, a bit of footwork and just having that balance as well.

"But defences are really controlling the game - you talk about creativity in midfield but Australia have scored tries from kicks and from turnovers.

"If you look at their set-piece stuff they haven't actually created a heck of a lot.

"But in this whole campaign we've probably lacked a little bit of width and depth, and that's something that [Wales backs coach] Rob Howley has been working really hard on our backs."

One player who would fit perfectly into Wales' midfield is Gavin Henson, but the player is on a self-imposed sabbatical from rugby and is on indefinite leave from his region the Ospreys with no sign of a return to playing.

"I haven't spoken to Gavin but wouldn't it be fantastic to see him come back, not just for his attacking ability but his defensive qualities as well - he's a big, powerful rugby player," Gatland admitted.


As well as his backline, Gatland believes that his current back-row options lack an experienced flanker shaped in the modern mould.

"If you look at someone like [Australia's David] Pocock, and with [South Africa's Heinrich] Brussow as well, and with [New Zealand's Richie] McCaw looking at the modern-day seven... you've got to have a destructive seven," Gatland said.

"He's just basically a nuisance because he's on the ball the whole time being destructive, it's whether we need to look at that going forward.

"I thought [Blues open-side] Sam Warburton did pretty well when he came on [against Australia].

"We know what a fantastic player Martyn Williams is but he's more creative, he's a great rugby player but you wouldn't say he's the destructive type of seven.

"Those are the things we need to debate and have a look at going forward."

Highlights - Wales 12-33 Australia

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see also
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Wales were embarrassed - Thomas
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Fans disappointed by Wales slump
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Gatland 'disappointed' with Wales
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Wales 12-33 Australia
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Injury worry for Williams & Rees
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Autumn internationals photos
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Wales' rugby fixtures
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Wales rugby results archive
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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