Gatland insists selection door remains open
July 14, 2011
Fly-half Stephen Jones will be present at the second camp after missing the earlier one due to the birth of his first child © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland insists Rugby World Cup places remain up for grabs despite his decision to cut several players from his side's latest training camp.
Gatland will lead a 35-man squad to Spala in Poland next week for the second of two scheduled visits ahead of the World Cup with a host of names set to be left behind. Senior players Andy Powell, Jonathan Thomas and Richie Rees are among those who miss out with Andrew Bishop, Ken Owens, John Yapp, Scott Andrews and Lou Reed also dropped from the squad that attended the initial camp last week.
An initial squad of 42 players met the fitness standards required of them for the first camp, with five players ruled out of that trip for various reasons - Gareth Delve (rested), Stephen Jones (birth of child), Dwayne Peel (unavailable), Morgan Stoddart (thigh), although he flew out later as a replacement for the injured Jason Tovey (back), and Richard Hibbard (shoulder). Delve, Peel, Tovey and Hibbard will also miss out on the latest trip to Poland, although centurion Jones returns to squad duty.
But Gatland is quick to point out that no players have been discarded from his plans at this stage. "The door is still very much open for those players who are not making this trip," said Gatland. "This camp will have a strong focus on rugby whilst retaining the skills and conditioning elements of our first visit to Spala.
"It will give us further opportunity to see more of some players in particular in and intense rugby environment, with the likes of Ryan Bevington, Lloyd Burns, Justin Tipuric and Scott Williams all gaining an extra opportunity to show us their worth. The nature of the training regime next week meant we were always going to take a smaller group of players, because of the strong rugby element involved.
"The players on the camp have an opportunity to work hard and impress, but it will not be a case of out of sight out of mind for those players who remain at home."
The Wales squad are utilising cryotherapy chambers at the widely respected Olympic training venue in Poland, which improves recovery to the extent that they are able to double their daily workloads during the 10-day camp.
On return from Spala, further announcements will follow in relation to the World Cup warm-up fixtures against England at Twickenham on August 6, the return fixture at the Millennium Stadium on August 13 and Argentina's visit to the Welsh capital on August 20.
The Welsh Rugby Union have also stressed that the eventual 30-man World Cup squad, to be unveiled on August 22, may include any player named in the original extended squad list and is not limited to those on this particular training camp in Poland.
Wales - Spala training camp squad:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton