Warren Gatland says the countdown to Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 starts now after naming his Wales squad for the upcoming Tests.
Gatland has selected a 37-man group for the November matches against Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa and has chosen to stick with a number of the men that made up the travelling party for the summer trip to USA and Argentina.
Uncapped wings Jonah Holmes and Luke Morgan, of Leicester and Ospreys respectively, have been called up for the first time, while centres Jonathan Davies and Tyler Morgan, plus prop Leon Brown are back after injuries.
It is a huge opportunity for the players.Warren Gatland
Alun Wyn Jones is named captain, while Justin Tipuric, George North and Liam Williams also return.
Eight players have not been considered due to injury and Gatland has also excluded some of his more experienced stars in a bid to integrate the younger players into his squad ahead of next year’s tournament in Japan.
The 55-year-old says he is by no means discounting those left out but has warned that they will need to start performing as this is the time he begins his World Cup plans in earnest.
“This autumn is the start of a 12-month countdown to the Rugby World Cup and it is a huge opportunity for the players,” said Gatland.
“The players who performed and represented Wales so well in the summer deserve the opportunity again and we are really pleased with the depth we have built across the squad.
“We have added in a lot of experience with eight British & Irish Lions coming into the squad so there is a lot of competition for places.
“Some experienced players have missed out, the message to them is the door isn’t closed looking long term, its just a reflection of where we are depth wise and the opportunity to look at other players.”
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