| 3.6°C Dublin

Gatland's World Cup warning to exiles over release date

Warren Gatland has warned Wales players plying their trade in England they face missing out on a World Cup spot due to the Aviva Premiership's "ridiculous" decision not to release them until August 4, the latest date allowed, next year.

Wasps flanker Andy Powell and Sale scrum-half Dwayne Peel were notable absentees from Gatland's 33-man squad for November engagements against Australia, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand, partly due to the pair being unable to be involved against Australia as the game falls outside the International Rugby Board's Test window.

And Gatland warned that the stance taken by Premier Rugby, the body representing the Premiership clubs, will harm players' prospects of going to New Zealand next September.

"The major concern is we have had a letter from Premier Rugby saying players in England will not be released until August 4," said Gatland.

"That is completely ridiculous to say the players will finish (the season) in May but not be available for national squads until August, two days before we play England in our first warm-up game.


"It's going to limit players playing in England being available in terms of preparation or being available for the squad.

"Picking this squad, we have looked at this campaign and the Six Nations, and if a player playing across the (Severn) bridge is unavailable until August 4, it is highly unlikely they will be considered for the World Cup squad."

Gatland, who has agreed a new four-year contract extension through to the 2015 World Cup, opted to delay naming his captain. He will wait until he picks his side for Wales' opening engagement against Australia on November 6.

Regular captain Ryan Jones has only started one game so far this season after recovering from a leg injury. Centre Jamie Roberts is an absentee with a wrist injury.

Dragons wing Will Harries and Scarlets duo Rob McCusker and Tavis Knoyle retain their places after winning their first caps on tour while there are two new caps in Cardiff prop Scott Andrews and Scarlets wing George North.

Irish Independent