Gatland names squad for Six Nations defence
Wales coach selects 32-man panel for forthcoming Six Nations tournament
Warren Gatland: “The Six Nations is always a tough competition, you need a little bit of luck and momentum and that’s why we need to start well against Italy first up.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named a 32-man squad for this season’s Six Nations title defence. There are no uncapped players in Gatland’s group, which will be captained by last year’s British and Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton.
Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies, who is not expected back in action until early March while he continues his recovery from a chest muscle injury, is in the squad, but there is no place for Cardiff Blues scrumhalf Lloyd Williams.
Gatland will also need to run the rule over Warburton, who has been sidelined in recent weeks due to injury, while his fellow Blues forward Gethin Jenkins went off injured during last Saturday’s Heineken Cup defeat against Toulon.
Wales are seeking to become the first country in Six Nations history to win a hat-trick of titles. They kick off their campaign at home to Italy on February 1st before travelling to face Ireland in Dublin on February 8th.
“Last year was a fantastic year and I’m really excited to be back involved and this year is going to be a big challenge for us,” said Gatland. “We have got an opportunity to create history and that is something we will focus on and something that will give us extra motivation.
“We have got the three games at home and two tough away games but when we won the Grand Slam in 2008 and 2012 we had these fixtures so we know it can be done. The Six Nations is always a tough competition, you need a little bit of luck and momentum and that’s why we need to start well against Italy first up.
“Talking to the coaches we were a little bit slow starting last year and we know we need to start well on February 1st. We’ve picked a pretty experienced squad and kept it fairly tight at this stage.”
Forwards: Paul James (Bath), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton Capt (Cardiff Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets). Backs: Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), James Hook (Perpignan), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Liam Williams (Scarlets).