Warren Gatland named a slightly surprising team ahead of the Six Nations opener against Ireland this weekend earlier today, with the most notable omission being prop Genthin Jenkins.
— WalesOnline (@WalesOnline) February 3, 2016
Jenkins is Wales' most capped player, and Gatland has admitted he has dropped out of the side owing to this weekend's referee, Jerome Garces, frequently penalising Wales at scrum time during the World Cup.
Gatland was quoted as saying that the Welsh scrum record when Garces held the whistle "was part of the conscious decision in terms of that selection.”
Gatland's selection of two openside flankers in the back row (Warburton and Tipuric) hints at Gatland seeking to dominate the breakdown, and the Welsh coach praised Garces' refereeing of that aspect of the game:
I thought he was one of the best referees in the World Cup.
The way he refereed the breakdown was outstanding and he’s definitely not afraid to referee an upset as well, which is pleasing to see.
He was in charge of the South Africa-Japan game at the World Cup, as well as Ireland-Argentina and us against England.
Someone said that out of his last six Six Nations matches, five away teams have won. I think he just referees what’s in front of him.
We were very pleased with the way he handled the breakdown during the World Cup and his control in that area. He did penalise us a few times at scrum-time, but we were very happy with his control of the game.
At the moment, from the performances we have seen recently, him and Nigel are definitely the two top referees in world rugby.
We hope Ireland can buck the trend of the away team winning under Garces.