Wales Debuts Ranked: Warren Gatland's Eight Bolters Rated After Two England Matches - Ruck

Wales Debuts Ranked: Warren Gatland’s Eight Bolters Rated After Two England Matches

Wales have started off their 2023 Summer Nations Series with a win and a loss against England. Warren Gatland’s side secured an impressive 20-9 victory over England in Cardiff, before Steve Borthwick’s men returned the favour last Saturday at Twickenham.

Maro Itoje of England and Jamie George of England celebrates after winning during the Summer Nations Series Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 12 Aug 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

It was yellow card chaos last weekend in South West London, with England at one stage dropping down to just 12 men on the pitch. England fought hard to complete the 19-17 comeback win, with George Ford slotting the match-winning penalty.

However, this ill-disciplined win has not come without it’s repercussions for England. Captain Owen Farrell fell victim to the new ‘Off Field Review / Bunker’ system, seeing his shoulder charge to the head of Taine Basham upgraded from a yellow to a red card. Farrell now faces a ban that will likely rule him out of some Pool Stage action at the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Owen Farrell, Captain of England looks dejected after being shown a yellow card by Referee. Nika Amashukeli during the Summer Nations Series Match between England and Wales at Twickenham, London on 12 Aug 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland granted eight bolters their test match debuts over the two matches. There are plenty of opportunities to claim a place for the Rugby World Cup squad, after numerous Wales veterans including Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb withdrew themselves from the training squad.

Some of the Wales newcomers put their hands up for future opportunities, whilst others struggled to keep their heads up in the deep waters of the international stage. With the dust settled on the back-to-back fixtures between England and Wales, lets take a look and review the performances of Warren Gatland’s eight most recent debutants.

Warren Gatland, Head Coach of Wales is interviewed during the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Media Launch at County Hall, Lambeth, London on Monday 23rd January 2023 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.


Taine Plumtree: B –

The only newcomer to play in both the Cardiff and London fixtures, back-rower Taine Plumtree will be hoping to recover from an unfortunately timed injury ahead of the Rugby World Cup. You could here the New Zealand born bolter swear in pain as he walked down the Twickenham tunnel, with a shoulder issue being the cause of his problems.

However, despite the untimely set-back to his world cup plans, the former Auckland Blues’ man had an impressive couple of stints in Gatland’s side. Plumtree replaced Exeter Chiefs flanker Christ Tshiunza after 50 minutes at the Principality Stadium, and showed a great go-forward to drive his fatiguing forwards around the park.

Plumtree presented a strong engine, and brought the All Blacks flair with some neat touches to put his teammates into space. The 23-year-old had a solid debut in the Welsh victory, and followed this up with another strong showing at Twickenham. Plumtree was one of just three players that were retained by Warren Gatland, to make the trip to Twickenham for last weekend’s return fixture. . A second half injury cut his day short after 47 minutes, with Taine Basham replacing him in the number eight spot.

Corey Domachowski: D

Cardiff prop Corey Domachowski started from the off, in the first of two matches between Wales and England. Making the short walk to step up from Cardiff Arms Park to the Principality Stadium, Domachowski was awarded his test match debut by Gatland, yet struggled at times under the bright lights.

Given the run out for the first half, Domachowski was out-scrummed by England tight-head Will Stuart throughout the first half. Stuart won a hat-trick of scrum penalties against the Welsh debutant, with Marcus Smith taking full advantage with a trio of first half penalties from the tee. Domachowski was replaced by Nicky Smith just nine minutes into the second half.