Gatland: Powell warranted recall
May 17, 2010
Cardiff Blues No.8 Andy Powell has been recalled to the Wales squad for their summer tour © PA Photos
Warren Gatland insists that Andy Powell is back in his Wales squad on merit but did concede that he is not blessed with many back-row options.
Powell has not played for his country since being arrested for being under the influence whilst in control of a golf buggy the morning after Wales' Six Nations victory over Scotland in Cardiff. However, on Sunday the Cardiff Blues back-row was selected for the upcoming Tests with South Africa and New Zealand, with Gatland insisting that Powell warranted his recall - despite the lack of credible alternatives.
"It's definitely on merit," he told BBC Sport. "But we don't always have a lot of options. We've picked one or two youngsters in the past that haven't been playing regularly for their regions, and even some more experienced players that don't regularly start for their regions. Ideally you want players that are playing week in and week out as first picks for their regions, but we don't always have that luxury.
"If you look at the 12 loose forwards that often start, six to eight of them can be foreign players on some weekends. And you look at the Blues where you've got (flankers) Martyn Williams and Sam Warburton playing in the same position as well.
"I've often made points in the past about the frustration of some of our top players not getting regular rugby for their regions, but I've never put any pressure on the regions in terms of trying to force their hands. You've got to make your own decisions about players, but I've got to live with what I've got sometimes."
Gatland is also of the opinion that Powell has learned his lesson and is backing the British & Irish Lion to make amends for his indiscretion by playing a starring role for Wales on their tour of the southern hemisphere.
"He's been remorseful about what he's done; it's been well documented. Unfortunately a few weeks ago he picked up a bit of a calf injury but we've had him in the Vale training and he looks in good shape," he said. "He desperately wants to be part of this Welsh squad and get an opportunity to prove some of his critics wrong and prove that he is capable of playing at the highest level."
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