Jonathan Davies: Parker's brilliance clouds selection picture

Click to follow

The Pacific Islanders came into this game looking more like Barry Islanders although they finished up looking a much better team than when they started. But they took so long about it, Wales had put the game well out of their reach before the interval.

And while they were about it, the much-changed Welsh ended up causing as many problems for their coach, Gareth Jenkins, as they did for their opponents. Jenkins is now in proud possession of a squad full of players with genuine claims for selection when he comes to pick his strongest team.

Wales are making big strides forward and have a glut of players in top form. Considering they hadn't won in the previous six matches, they are suddenly in an exceedingly healthy position.

The game lacked the zip and intensity of the previous Saturday's battle with Australia but Wales started very well, solid and cohesive and far too good for the Pacific players.

I was slightly disappointed with the very loose way they played. They had no direction or pattern and played right into the hands of the Welsh team.

I'm all for open rugby but flinging the ball about with such gay abandon has no future as a tactic at this level. But we have to acknowledge that they are still a young international unit with hardly any preparation time at their disposal. I was with the coaches, Pat Lam and Shane Howarth, earlier in the week and they didn't know who would definitely be in their squad until they turned up.

But they did score three tries and when the game got looser it suited their play and they joined Wales in giving the crowd plenty of late entertainment. They will come on tremendously for the experience and will certainly be a stronger proposition when they meet Scotland and Ireland in the next two weeks.

I chose Welsh centre Sonny Parker as my man of the match. He was excellent defensively and he added the essential pace to so many movements.

The captain, Duncan Jones, had a very solid game and was another of those putting his hand up for selection. Ceri Sweeney controlled the game expertly and completed his kicking duties admirably. Mike Phillips was also impressive at scrum-half and Wales are so well blessed in the half-back department, picking the team over the next fortnight isn't going to be easy.

The simple answer is to pick the men who are playing best at the time. Inevitably, everyone had their eyes on young James Hook and he certainly didn't disappoint, looking very assured at No 12.

It is still a debatable point but I believe that No 10 will be his best position and that's where he should be playing regularly for the Ospreys. There is no doubt about his high skill level but he needs to have more experience at reading games, and No 10 is where you learn to run a game.

He was certainly quick to read his interception chance in the first half. The Pacific outside-half Tusi Pisi took so long in winding up before throwing a long pass, Hook practically strolled into the hole to catch it and go for the line.

The same thing happened in the last minute of the first half when it was Lee Byrne's turn to score from an easy intercept.

But the simplicity of these scores were compensated for by superbly worked tries by Mark Jones and Kevin Morgan who both look bang on form.

With Canada to come on Friday and the All Blacks visiting the following weekend, these are thrilling times at the Millennium Stadium and the selection arguments we are going to have beforehand are likely to be even more exciting.

Comments