No Hawkins has Gatland reveals World Cup training squad
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Wales head coach Waren Gatland has named a 54-player preliminary training squad for Rugby World Cup 2023.
The big development is that Ospreys centre Joe Hawkins has been omitted from the squad.
Hawkins has been capped five times since making his international debut last November, but doubts were cast over the 20-year-old’s eligibility following his decision to join Exeter next season.
Hawkins falls short of the 25-cap clause for players plying their trade outside Wales, and the Welsh Rugby Union had to decide whether he signed a contract with Exeter prior to making his debut.
Meanwhile, players will start to come in for training sessions with Wales on a rolling basis from 25 May, with entry into camp depending on when an individual’s club season has ended.
In addition to sessions at the National Centre of Excellence in Hensol, Wales will travel to Switzerland and Turkey in July for specialist training camps. The squad size will be reduced ahead of each trip.
Wales then have three August Test matches against England (home and away on 5 and 12 August) and South Africa (19 August at Millennium Stadium) before the official 33-player squad to head to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France is named.
Gatland said: “We’ve picked a large squad for a number of reasons. We will reduce the squad to about 45 before we go to Switzerland so there’s a bit of jeopardy in the first part of the campaign.
“It’s a great opportunity for some players that were involved in the Six Nations and some youngsters for the future to show us what they are capable of doing in the first part of the preparation.
“In the past we’ve prided ourselves on how hard we’ve worked and how fit the squad has been. So that’s the message to the players to come in and make a statement, work really hard, make the coaches sit up and take notice and get yourself in great shape physically.
“A lot of skill work needs to be done and there’s an opportunity to work on the detail you often don’t get when you go into Six Nations or Autumn campaigns when you have limited preparation time.”
Wales preliminary training squad for Rugby World Cup 2023:
Forwards: Rhys Carre, Corey Domachowski, Kemsley Mathias, Nicky Smith, Gareth Thomas, Eliott Dee, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Ken Owens, Keiron Assiratti, Tomas Francis, Will Davies-King, Dillon Lewis, Henry Thomas, Adam Beard, Ben Carter, Rhys Davies, Cory Hill, Dafydd Jenkins, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands, Christ Tshiunza, Teddy Williams, Taine Basham, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Macleod, Jac Morgan, Tommy Reffell, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.
Backs: Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Rhys Webb, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Sam Costelow, Owen Williams, Mason Grady, Max Llewellyn, George North, Joe Roberts, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Keiran Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Rio Dyer, Cai Evans, Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tom Rogers, Liam Williams.
Additional source: PA Sport