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Warren Gatland names joint captains for Wales’ World Cup squad

21 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Wales head coach Warren Gatland (centre) with co-captains Jac Morgan (left) and Dewi Lake. Photo Ben Birchall PA Images

Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake have been named as Wales co-captains for the Rugby World Cup.

The Ospreys forwards will lead a squad that includes recent international newcomers in wing Rio Dyer, centre Mason Grady and prop Corey Domachowski.

But there is no place for scrum-half Kieran Hardy, with Wales head coach Warren Gatland deciding to select just two nines in Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies.

Gatland has chosen a split of 14 backs and 19 forwards for the tournament, with Fiji looming as opening opponents in Bordeaux on September 10.

Fly-half Gareth Anscombe and number eight Taulupe Faletau have won Gatland’s vote in the final 33-strong group despite not featuring during Wales’ three-game August schedule due to injuries.

And he has named Lake, who is currently recovering from a knee injury, and his fellow hooker Ryan Elias (hamstring), plus lock Dafydd Jenkins (knee), who at 20 is the squad’s youngest player.

Centre George North, meanwhile, will head to his fourth World Cup, putting himself in illustrious company alongside the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O’Driscoll, Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.

North and his midfield colleague Grady can also provide wing cover, with Gatland opting for five back-three players – Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Josh Adams and Dyer.

Hospital bed

Also heading to France are Scarlets centre Johnny Williams, who watched the last World Cup four years ago from a hospital bed while he was treated for testicular cancer, Scarlets fly-half Sam Costelow and former England prop Henry Thomas.

Thomas, whose father is from Swansea, won seven England caps in 2013 and 2014, but new World Rugby regulations enable players to appear for another country either of their birth, parent or grandparent provided a minimum three-year period has elapsed since last being selected elsewhere.

Other players from Gatland’s training group who did not make the final squad include Ospreys wing Alex Cuthbert, Gloucester centre Max Llewellyn, Cardiff prop Keiron Assiratti, Ospreys lock Rhys Davies and Scarlets back-row forward Taine Plumtree.

Gatland said: “The toughest part of the job is always selection and this is particularly the case when it comes to picking a Rugby World Cup squad.

“Over the past three months the whole group of 48 players in the wider training squad have been outstanding in terms of attitude and effort, so having to reduce the squad down to the final 33 has been really hard.

“There have been some close final decisions in the last 36 hours.

“But we can only take 33 players and those we have selected we think offer a good combination in terms of talent and experience.

“We have a few more training sessions here in Wales before we depart for France on September 3 and we cannot wait to get out there and get started in this tournament. We look forward to what lies ahead for this group.

“This will be a very proud moment for these players, their families and friends and I would like to congratulate them all on the achievement.”

Wales World Cup squad:

Forwards: T Basham (Dragons), A Beard (Ospreys), E Dee (Dragons), C Domachowski (Cardiff), R Elias (Scarlets), T Faletau (Cardiff), T Francis (Provence), D Jenkins (Exeter), D Lake (Ospreys, co-capt), D Lewis (Harlequins), D Lydiate (Dragons), J Morgan (Ospreys, co-capt), T Reffell (Leicester), W Rowlands (Dragons), N Smith (Ospreys), G Thomas (Ospreys), H Thomas (Montpellier), C Tshiunza (Exeter), A Wainwright (Dragons).

Backs: J Adams (Cardiff), G Anscombe (Tokyo Sungoliath), D Biggar (Toulon), S Costelow (Scarlets), G Davies (Scarlets), R Dyer (Dragons), M Grady (Cardiff), L Halfpenny (unattached), G North (Ospreys), L Rees-Zammit (Gloucester), N Tompkins (Saracens), J Williams (Scarlets), L Williams (Kubota Spears), T Williams (Cardiff).

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