Wales Name 2019 Rugby World Cup Squad Heading to Japan

Image: Coach Warren Gatland looks on with pride” (CC BY 2.0) by National Assembly For Wales / Cynulliad Cymru

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named the 31-man squad he’s taking to the Far East for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

After landing a Six Nations Grand Slam in the spring, they had been one of the favourites for global glory in the Land of the Rising Sun.

At one stage, it looked like Wales would go to the World Cup as number one ranked rugby union nation on earth following a record 14 consecutive victories, but warmup defeats by England and Ireland cost them top spot.

This loss of form on the eve of the tournament plus injury absences from their roster mean Wales are now 9/1 with bet365 in their rugby union betting to win the World Cup outright.

Scarlets props Rob Evans and Samson Lee aren’t among the options selected by Gatland for his forward pack, but he takes a gamble on the fitness of lock Cory Hill. The Dragons second row is sidelined with a broken leg at the moment – but it isn’t as serious an injury as it sounds.

Tomas Francis is the most experienced tighthead prop, while hooker Ken Owens prepares for his third Rugby World Cup. Scarlets understudy Ryan Elias and Elliott Dee act as backup.

Joining Hill at lock is Wales captain and most capped player Alun Wyn Jones, Ospreys teammate Adam Beard and Jake Ball. Nicky Smith heads options at loosehead prop.

Justin Tipuric is the senior player among back row options with number eight Toby Faletau out of the tournament with a fractured collarbone. Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi and Aaron Shingler beef up the flanker positions with plenty of experience.

There are six for Gatland to choose from in total for the three back row spots. First-choice halfback pairing Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar form a key pivot for Wales, meanwhile. Gatland has cover for both in Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell and Tomos Williams.

Scarlets centre duo Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes head to Japan alongside Owen Watkin, who is preferred to Ospreys teammate Scott Williams in midfield. The back three has a familiar look to it with wings George North, Hallam Amos and Josh Adams joined by Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams.

Versatile back Gareth Anscombe is not in Wales’ World Cup squad, however, because of injury. The tournament marks the end of Gatland’s 12 years in charge, and his defence coach, Shaun Edwards, is also set to leave the setup when Welsh participation in it concludes.

Before a likely future role for Edwards with the French national team, however, the pair are plotting a first-ever global triumph. Wales are in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup finals where their main opposition is an Australia side that have had a difficult year.

Despite finishing above neighbours and bitter rivals New Zealand in the Rugby Championship for Southern Hemisphere countries, the Wallabies were rocked by a scandal involving comments made by former fullback Israel Folau.

He won’t play for the national team again, however, and that has weakened the Australian backs Michael Cheika calls upon for the World Cup finals. Wales are odds-on favourites to beat the Wallabies to the top spot in the pool which also contains Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay.

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