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Six Nations 2024: Can Warren Gatland rebuild Wales... again?

Guinness Six Nations: Wales v Scotland

Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 3 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT

Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and online from 16:00 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Scotland & Radio Cymru; text commentary and highlights on BBC Sport website and app.

Three times Warren Gatland has dismantled a Wales squad and with the pieces rebuilt a title-winning team.

While Max Boyce's mythical fly-half factory has been consigned to the past, the production line has continued, from 2008, to 2012 and then 2019.

Now aged 60, can Gatland possibly do it a fourth time?

It is fitting then that in the week teen darts sensation Luke Littler made his Premier League debut in Cardiff, Gatland has placed his faith in youth.

This time last year, eight of the Wales starters for the Six Nations were aged over 30, in a team boasting more than 950 caps and led by the country's oldest ever captain in Ken Owens.

This Saturday, Gatland has named a team with an average age of 25 possessing less than half that experience (413 caps) and skippered by Dafydd Jenkins, the youngest captain for 56 years.

The transition began last summer ahead of the World Cup, but has now been accelerated through circumstances out of Gatland's control.

Retirements have seen Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny depart. Injuries have robbed Wales of George North, Taulupe Faletau, Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake while club moves denied them Liam Williams, Gareth Anscombe and Tomas Francis.

The four regions, Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets, have been forced to throw their lot in with youngsters this season following drastic cost-cutting to get the domestic game on an even financial footing.

Now Gatland is having to do the same with the national team. He won titles 11 years apart with Wales, but this could be his biggest challenge yet.

"The side Wales has picked is so young and inexperienced but that's the situation we are in," former Wales fly-half and BBC pundit Jonathan Davies told Radio Wales Breakfast.

"We've had a lot of retirements, injuries and a lack of funding with the regions means we have ended up with this side.

"We're not sure if they're up to the standard yet because they've been forced into it earlier than perhaps they would have thought. But hopefully they will embrace it, step up and just show what they can do."

Politics is never far away in Welsh rugby, but while the domestic game pleads poverty, it can at least rest on a measure of peace.

Gatland is confident of avoiding the chaos that undermined his return last year, which reached a peak when players threatened to strike ahead of the England game.

"It has been easier [this year] because we haven't had those things happening off the field, none of those distractions," he said.

"Yes, we've lost a considerable amount of experience and players have moved on.

"But a lot of teams go through cycles and we're at the start of an exciting cycle with this group of players."

Gatland has never been afraid to blood youngsters, think Tom Prydie, Tyler Morgan or North, albeit they were surrounded by older, calmer heads.

Cardiff full-back Cameron Winnett wins his first cap against Scotland with clubmate Alex Mann poised to follow from the bench, while several players, including fly-half Sam Costelow, will make their Six Nations debut.

However a home start offers Wales the chance to build that all-important momentum and then, as Gatland said, you have "everything to play for".

"I get excited for the young players. They get to learn what it's like to play in front of 75,000 people where things are happening quicker that you'd normally experience," he said.

"We've thrown in young players in the past and they have done exceptionally well for us. It does take a little bit of time [because] you can't coach experience.

"I like to think people see us preparing for the Six Nations, but also for the next few years [with] a group of youngsters we want to develop and think will be outstanding players in the next few seasons.

"They can go out there with no fear, with the way they've prepared. Playing at home, they can play with a lot of confidence."

Wales always have confidence at home against Scotland who have not won in Cardiff for 22 years.

But while a new chapter begins, Saturday's result will show just how big a job Gatland has on his hands.