Monday 16 July 2018

'It's tough on him' - Rhys Webb in Wales squad despite the fact he'll be ineligible for 2019 Rugby World Cup

Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb
Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Warren Gatland has included Rhys Webb in his Wales squad for the upcoming autumn internationals even though he will no longer be eligible for Wales when he moves to Toulon at the end of the season.

Webb will not be eligible to play for Wales when he leaves Ospreys for Toulon next season, after the Welsh Rugby Union changed its selection policy.

Players taking up a new deal with a team outside Wales must have won 60 caps and Webb has won 28.

"I've had a chat with Rhys and met him on Saturday morning," Gatland said.

"He's disappointed that we've announced this policy after he'd agreed terms with Toulon and I understand that. I feel for him but I must say that this new policy is much better than what we had in the past.

"In the World Cup we would have had two wild card players to choose from and if you look at who those wildcard players may have been... Toby Faletau, George North, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb and maybe a couple of others as well and we would have only been able to pick two of those six or seven players

"It's disappointing for Rhys at the moment but the policy does help us a lot in terms of the next few years and we will be able to select fully the other players who will be available to us because of this policy change."

Wales have named five uncapped players in their 36-man squad for their autumn Tests against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa, including 30 year-old Scarlets centre Hadleigh Parkes.

Parkes, born in Hunterville on New Zealand's North Island, arrived from Auckland in 2014 will only become eligible on residency grounds for the final international of 2017 against the Springboks.

However, the hard-running, ball-playing midfielder has impressed for his region and wins selection over both British and Irish Lion Jamie Roberts and Scarlets teammate Scott Williams.

Dragons pair Leon Brown and Elliot Dee, Ospreys flanker and sevens Olympic silver medallist Sam Cross and centre Owen Watkin also feature. Luke Charteris, Gethin Jenkins and Sam Davies all miss out

Led by captain Alun Wyn Jones, the squad will face four consecutive matches at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, kicking off against the in-form Wallabies on November 11.

"I'm really excited about this squad as we kick off the two year countdown to the Rugby World Cup 2019," said Wales head coach Warren Gatland. "We see this series as an opportunity to expose some players to the Test environment and continue to build our game as we look ahead to two years' time.

"This autumn is a lot different to 12 months ago, where the focus was all about rankings. We have selected five uncapped players, there are a further six who made their debuts on the summer tour so it is a big opportunity to see all these players in this environment and I'm looking forward to seeing what they are able to do.

"The important message for those players who have missed out: The door isn't closed."

Wales squad

Forwards (20): Rob Evans (Scarlets), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Leon Brown (Dragons)*, Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Elliot Dee (Dragons)*, Ken Owens (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues), Cory Hill (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, captain), Sam Cross (Ospreys)*, Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)

Backs (16): Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Bath Rugby), Owen Williams (Gloucester), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets)* Owen Watkin (Ospreys)* Hallam Amos (Dragons)

* denotes uncapped player

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