It’s a good thing squads are made up of 33 players. It’s also a good thing that we now have a week between World Cup games. If either of those things weren’t true then Warren Gatland might have had to put on a pair of boots himself after the heroic performance of his team in the opening round.
Gatland has made 13 changes to the side that stood firm against Fijian resistance in a 32-26 victory. Across 80 gruelling minutes the men in red repelled 63 Fijian carries in their own 22 and made an astonishing 252 tackles. We can quibble over the way the game was reffed but that is an extraordinary effort against one of the most fearsome teams in the competition.
They’ll expect to play more ball today against a Portugal side that will show plenty of spirit but shouldn’t pose too many challenges.
This is an opportunity for some of the Welsh players on the fringe to stand up and make a claim for a starting berth against Australia and Georgia down the road.
As for Portugal, they’ll be fresh after sitting out of the opening round. This is is their first World Cup match since September 2007. They took the scenic route to get here and just edged out the USA on points difference after drawing with the Eagles 16-16 thanks to an 82nd penalty from Samuel Marques.
If they can demonstrate the same gumption this afternoon, they may inflict a few more bruises on Gatland’s boys.
More updates to follow. Kick off at 5:45pm local time/4:45pm BST.