Wales name revised 39-man squad
July 29, 2011
Thomas appeared in four of Wales' five games during the 2011 Six Nations © Getty Images
Welsh duo Jonathan Thomas and Andy Powell have been handed a World Cup lifeline after being named in Warren Gatland's 39-man squad for the warm-up clash against England on August 6.
Back-rows Thomas and Powell - who were discarded from Wales' second training camp to Poland - are joined in the squad by prop Scott Andrews and hooker Ken Owens, both of whom sat out the trip to Spala. There is bad news for back-row Rob McCusker, however, as he will sit out the warm-up Test because of back problems.
Melbourne Rebels' Gareth Delve is rewarded for a series of strong performances over the 2011 Super Rugby season with inclusion in the 39-man party. However, Sale Sharks scrum-half Dwayne Peel is unable to join the rest of the squad due to English clubs blocking the release of Welsh players outside the designated IRB window. It seems likely that Peel will join the squad on August 4 - 35 days before the opening match of the 2011 World Cup.
Gatland admits the World Cup squad will be largely drawn from the 39-man party and believes they have not shied away from tough challenges prior to the World Cup. Following the match against England at Twickenham on August 6 they face their old rivals back at the Millennium Stadium the following week before completing their preparations against Argentina.
"The team to face England at Twickenham will be selected from this training squad," Gatland said. "We have established a nucleus of players who will form our World Cup squad based on their performances in training over recent weeks, but it is now time to translate those efforts onto the field.
"The players have worked hard, but places in that final World Cup squad are still very much up for grabs and a lot will depend on what we see over the course of these next three games.
"We have not shied away from facing the top quality opposition in preparation for this World Cup and it doesn't come much tougher than facing the 2003 World Cup winners and 2007 finalists on their home patch. The warm-up fixtures will be tough, but we are in a really tough group at the World Cup and replicating those conditions can, ultimately, only be of benefit to us."
Wales' Preliminary 39-Man Squad:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall
John Griffiths digs into the distant past to try to establish the identity of an England international whose life is a virtual mystery