Wales head coach Warren Gatland has announced his 37-man squad for the Six Nations, which includes 31 players that took part in last autumn’s World Cup, as well as ten that ply their trade outside Wales. The squad contains a blend of youth and experience, and will expect to contend at this years tournament.
The only uncapped player named in the squad is the 23-year old Scarlets scrum-half Aled Davies, who has been rewarded for his impressive form in the Pro12 for the Carmarthenshire outfit. With Rhys Webb still injured and Mike Phillips retired from international rugby, it perhaps wouldn’t be surprising to see Davies usurp Lloyd Williams as well as his Scarlets teammate Gareth Davies, and claim the starting number 9 jersey for the tournament opener against Ireland in Dublin.
Despite having one eye on the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Gatland has stuck with his elder statesmen in the front-row, with the 35 year-old Gethin Jenkins and the 33 year-old Paul James both making the squad. Both are highly unlikely to make the World Cup squad in four years, but should provide much needed experience for this years campaign at least. And with the highly-rated Scarlets youngster Rob Evans contending for starting loose-head spot, there’s no guarantee that either of the two will see an extended amount of playing time.
Notable omissions include the aforementioned Rhys Webb, as well as the talismanic Leigh Halfpenny, who both miss out through injury. Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues’ Rhys Patchell is once again overlooked in favour of his teammate Gareth Anscombe, while the days of James Hook may well be numbered after being left out for young talents such as Bristol’s Matthew Morgan.
Speaking to the BBC, Gatland commented, “We have picked a larger squad than normal, we have a few injuries at the moment, those players aren’t too far away from getting back on the field so we are happy with the mix.
“We have selected a squad that rewards players’ form, as well as picking a lot of experience, and that continuity is important to us.”
Forwards: Rob Evans (Scarlets), Paul James (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Dominic Day (Bath Rugby), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, captain).
Backs: Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues) Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Bath Rugby), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Tom James (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Matthew Morgan (Bristol Rugby), Liam Williams (Scarlets).