TIME FOR KIDS TO STEP UP

Leigh Halfpenny is set to fill the huge gap left by Welsh legend and all time leading try scorer Shane Williams. That is according to the Wales’ head coach Warren Gatland.

Williams retired from international rugby in spectacular fashion, scoring a try in the last play against Australia at the Millennium Stadium in December but with the Six Nations on the horizon it is time for the Welsh to move on.

George North and Halfpenny have both impressed in recent games and with Halfpenny hitting form for Cardiff and finally getting a good run of Rugby without picking up injuries he is starting to show his real potential. For years Halfpenny has seemed on the verge of making it big and it appears he could finally do it just as Wales need a new talisman. The Rugby Union Betting markets are awash with punters backing Halfpenny to do the business.

Williams has been the main man in Cardiff since 2003 but the years caught up with him and he has retired at the top of his game, before the years took a real toll on his legendary legacy in Welsh Rugby.

It will now be time for the new generation of Welsh stars to shine through. They impressed at the World Cup, finishing fourth but they showed the potential to go further and be better over the next four years.

Warburton, North and Faletau stole the show at the World Cup but if Halfpenny can hit top form he will be a critical part of any Welsh success in forthcoming years, and hopefully help improve on Wales’ Betfair Six Nations 2012 chances. His versatility appeals to Gatland, with Halfpenny seeming equally effective on the wing or at full back.

The Welsh side at the World Cup were impressive and things will continue to improve. They are still producing more potential world beaters and with Halfpenny still only 23, despite being in the fourth year of his international career, he will no doubt be involved with his national team for many years to come. If he can step up another level there is no doubt he could fill the gap left by Williams.

Forwards Coach Hails Owens

Robin McBryde, the forwards coach for the Wales Rugby Team has declared that he will be using Ken Owens as the top choice hooker in the side as the team gets ready for a three test match series against reigning Tri Nations champions Australia.

Owens was among the 17 players and support staff who were sent in advance to Australia and arrived at the wee hours on the morning of Saturday to adapt to the weather conditions Down Under as the reigning champions of the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere get ready to battle it out for supremacy, which will kick off on the 9th of June in Brisbane.

The 25 year old Owens is an understudy for Matthew Rees, his captain at his club side the Scarlets and started off his last season as the fifth choice hooker for the Wales Rugby Team. But luck suddenly turned on his side with Rees, the then captain of the national team injured and also, his rival at Ospreys Richard Hibbard heading for the treatment table and Owens was selected to go to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and since then, he has all but established himself in the national side.

Having won his first cap for Wales, coming on as a substitute in the match against Namibia, Owens’s career has only gone up and he has never looked back since and this comment from his coach is a testament to that fact.

Moreover, Owens still has an unblemished record for the Wales Rugby Team, having played five matches for the team and he is in line to start against The Wallabies in the first test match and it could all come down to his performances that could swing the match in the favor of Wales in this Battle of the Hemispheres.