Tuesday 20 March 2018

Jamie Roberts omitted from the Wales squad for November internationals

Jamie Roberts has been dropped by Warren Gatland
Jamie Roberts has been dropped by Warren Gatland

Andrew Baldock

Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts has been left out of the Wales squad for this season's autumn Tests.

Roberts, who has won 93 caps, fails to make a 36-man group for appointments with Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa between November 11 and December 2.

But there is a call-up for New Zealand-born Scarlets centre Hadleigh Parkes, even though he will not be eligible until the series finale against South Africa, by which time he will have completed his residency qualification.

Parkes is joined by four other uncapped players in the squad named by Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

Ospreys centre Owen Watkin, his regional team-mate and flanker Sam Cross, plus Dragons prop Leon Brown and hooker Elliot Dee all make the group.

Roberts, meanwhile, is in some strong company, with Scarlets centre Scott Williams and Bath lock Luke Charteris also not included.

But there is the expected recall for Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland, who last started for his country in the 2015 World Cup opener against Uruguay.

Priestland needed one of four available wild-card picks to represent Wales this season until the Welsh Rugby Union last week changed its national player selection policy.

And he underlined his form by kicking Bath to an impressive European Champions Cup victory over his former team the Scarlets last Friday.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb, who will be ineligible for Wales under the new 60-cap rule covering players who ply their trade outside the country when he joins French heavyweights Toulon next season, also features.

Injuries sideline Sam Warburton and George North, while Gloucester flanker Ross Moriarty and Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins, who have also had injuries this term, miss out.

And there is no place for Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin, who suffered a hand injury after being bitten by a lion while in South Africa on Guinness PRO14 duty earlier this season.

Ospreys lock Alun Wyn Jones will captain Wales in the autumn, a job he filled during last season's Six Nations.

Gatland said: "I am really excited about this squad as we kick off the two-year countdown to the 2019 World Cup.

"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 am 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 for this season's autumn Tests.

Backs: A Davies (Scarlets), G Davies (Scarlets), R Webb (Ospreys), D Biggar (Ospreys), R Patchell (Scarlets), R Priestland (Bath), O Williams (Gloucester), J Davies (Scarlets), T Morgan (Dragons), H Parkes (Scarlets), O Watkin (Ospreys), H Amos (Dragons), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), S Evans (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Scarlets), L Williams (Saracens).

Forwards: R Evans (Scarlets), W Jones (Scarlets), N Smith (Ospreys), L Brown (Dragons), T Francis (Exeter), S Lee (Scarlets), K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), E Dee (Dragons), K Owens (Scarlets), J Ball (Scarlets), A Beard (Ospreys), S Davies (Cardiff Blues), C Hill (Dragons), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), S Cross (Ospreys), T Faletau (Bath), D Lydiate (Ospreys), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys).

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