New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe is determined to keep himself firmly in Wales’ World Cup selection spotlight after making his Test debut at the Millennium Stadium.
Fly-half Anscombe, whose mother is from Cardiff, featured for most of the second period after going on as a substitute in Wales’ 35-21 World Cup warm-up defeat against Ireland.
And he looked more assured in the role than the player he replaced – Gloucester’s 74 times-capped James Hook – ahead of Wales head coach Warren Gatland preparing to make his first training squad personnel cut following a three-day camp in north Wales this week.
“It was a special moment for me and my family, who were in the stadium,” Anscombe said. “It was nice to have them in the crowd.
“When I came here this was a goal of mine and to have it ticked off is a nice accomplishment. It was a proud moment to run out, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Once you have a taste, you want more, and we all know what the end-goal is. I would love to be a part of it.”
Would like to thank every1 for their messages of support this past week, not the result we were after but loved every minute of it.
— Gareth Anscombe (@Gareth_Anscombe) August 8, 2015
A proud moment for my family an I , would like to thank every1 that’s helped me get to where I am today. Coaches, friends an family! #thanku
— Gareth Anscombe (@Gareth_Anscombe) August 8, 2015
Anscombe’s versatility as a fly-half and full-back could prove to be an important factor in the final World Cup selection reckoning – Gatland will announce his tournament squad on August 31 – and he was among only a small group of players who potentially enhanced their claims during a game that Ireland dominated throughout.
He offered more control and direction than Hook managed and his half-back partnership with Cardiff Blues colleague Lloyd Williams was central to an improved second-half display by Wales.
“You can never be fully confident, and there are a lot of 10s and 15s,” Anscombe added.
“There are a lot of talented players, and some good backs are going to miss out.
“You just have to keep training hard and take your opportunities on the field. I’ve got to survive the first cut and north Wales is another chance to showcase your skills.
“I am feeling a lot more comfortable in the squad. The Six Nations was more of a training role for me and getting a taste of things and an understanding of what the coaches want.
“Being a 10, playing in a different playing environment, it took me a bit of time to get used to the way that things are done over here.
“I feel I am getting a better grasp of that, and hopefully in time I can develop into a leader and take a few opportunities.”
South Africa captain Jean de Villiers, Marcell Coetzee and Willie le Roux will all miss next weekend’s rematch with Argentina in Buenos Aires, the South Africa Rugby Union announced on Sunday.
The trio all suffered injuries in Saturday’s historic 37-25 Rugby Championship defeat to the Pumas in Durban.
De Villiers fractured his jaw which will rule him out for up to six weeks.
Coetzee suffered a medial collateral ligament injury to his left knee which will rule him out for approximately six weeks. The injury is unrelated to the knee injury he suffered a few weeks ago in Brisbane.
Le Roux sprained his ankle early in the match against Argentina and will also not be considered for the trip to Buenos Aires.
He will undergo scans early in the week to determine the exact nature of the injury.
Several players on the way back from injury such as Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen, will be assessed on Monday before a decision on their availability for next weekend will be taken, Springobk team doctor Craig Roberts said.
Although Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Willem Alberts, Warren Whiteley and Jan Serfontein were declared fit to play last week, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer decided to give them an additional week to recover and they will be considered for selection next week.
Apart from De Villiers, Coetzee and Le Roux, other injured players who will not be considered for the trip to Buenos Aires, are Jannie du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) August 8, 2015
Morne Steyn has been released from the squad for the week to be with his wife, who is due to give birth to their second child on Monday.
Frans Steyn, although still recovering from injury, is on compassionate leave following the passing of his brother and a decision on when he will rejoin the squad to be assessed will be taken at a later stage.
Winger Juan Imhoff scored a hat-trick of tries as Argentina recorded a stunning first win over South Africa in Durban.
Winger Juan Imhoff scored a hat-trick of tries as Argentina recorded a historic first win over South Africa by 37-25 on Saturday in the final match of the 2015 Rugby Championship in Durban.
After 18 losses and a draw since the countries first met 22 years ago in Buenos Aires, the Pumas not only defeated the Springboks for the first time but also won away for the first time in the southern hemisphere competition.
Imhoff crossed the line twice in the opening half to help underdogs Argentina build a 27-13 half-time lead and South Africa never recovered from his third try early in the second half.
The result – only Argentina’s second win in 21 tournament matches – spoilt the Test comeback of Springboks skipper and centre Jean de Villiers, leading his country for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury last November.
Internationally, upsets galore Australia 27-19 New Zealand Argentina 37-25 South Africa FT pic.twitter.com/37omvkZt33
— Kenya Rugby 24/7 (@KenyaRugby247) August 8, 2015
De Villiers called the defeat “embarrassing” just five weeks out from the World Cup.
Australia won the Rugby Championship earlier Saturday with a 27-19 triumph in Sydney over world champions New Zealand, Argentina finished third and winless South Africa last.
“We deserved to make history tonight,” said Pumas skipper and hooker Agustin Creevy, “and I am so happy.
“My team played with tremendous heart and the victory is very encouraging after losses to New Zealand and Australia last month.
“It was vital to close the Championship with a win.”
De Villiers said: “That was a pretty embarrassing loss, but all credit to Argentina for executing their game plan so well.
“We did not do the green and gold jersey proud tonight and I believe our problems are more mental than physical.”
South Africa 25 Argentina 37. That’s a stunning 4-try win for the Pumas in Durban. But lots of questions for the Boks’ management
— Ed Marriage (@elmrugby) August 8, 2015
It took the Pumas just 100 seconds to go ahead as an inside pass caught the Springboks napping and Imhoff sent centre Marcelo Bosch over for a try that fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez converted.
After fly-half Handre Pollard trimmed the deficit to four points via a penalty, the South Americans struck again as Imhoff gathered an aimless kick ahead and triggered a move he later finished off.
Hernandez, a veteran of the 2007 and 2011 World Cup tournaments and recalled in place of off-form Nicolas Sanchez, converted again.
Another Pollard penalty was followed by another Imhoff try with the Pumas winning a scrum and breaking on the narrow side for the winger to go over.
Truly, truly stunning victory for Argentina. Beat the Boks IN South Africa. Arguably one of the most historic victories in modern rugby.
— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) August 8, 2015
Inexperienced Springbok tighthead prop Vincent Koch was having a torrid time at the scrums and being repeatedly penalised by French referee Romain Poite.
South Africa narrowed the gap to 21-13 when lock Lood de Jager used his bulk to barge over and Pollard converted.
But two Pumas penalties, from Hernandez and Bosch, left the visitors 14 points ahead halfway through the match.
Koch was replaced by Marcel van der Merwe at half-time as coach Heyneke Meyer reacted to a nightmare first half at scrum time for the Springboks.
South Africa controversially fell seven points further behind three minutes into the second half when Imhoff completed his hat-trick.
While the Springboks waited on the try-line, believing the referee had not restarted play after an injury, Hernandez took a tap penalty and passed to Imhoff, who waltzed over for Hernandez to convert.
Full-back Willie le Roux offered a glimmer of hope to the stunned 27,000 crowd by beginning and ending a move which produced a try that Pollard converted, leaving South Africa 14 points adrift with 30 minutes left.
Argentina, watched by some survivors of the first Pumas to tour South Africa 50 years ago, were next to score as Bosch dropped a goal before winger Bryan Habana claimed a late try for the hosts.