Gatland names three uncapped players in Wales squad

Coach includes scrumhalf Mike Phillips but will ‘have a quiet chat’ with Bayonne player

Ospreys’ Eli Walker is one of three uncapped players in the Wales squad for the autumn international matches. Photograph:  Nick Potts/PA

Ospreys’ Eli Walker is one of three uncapped players in the Wales squad for the autumn international matches. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 14:20

Wales boss Warren Gatland has named three uncapped players in a 35-man squad for next month’s Tests against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia.

Ospreys wing Eli Walker, Cardiff Blues centre Cory Allen and Scarlets scrumhalf Rhodri Williams have all been selected.

But there are no places for injured British and Irish Lions backs Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert.

Racing Metro centre Roberts is recovering from an ankle injury, while Blues wing Cuthbert suffered an ankle problem during last weekend’s Heineken Cup victory over European champions Toulon. Props Rhys Gill and Craig Mitchell were also unavailable due to injuries.

Perpignan back James Hook, who last started for Wales against another Test-playing country two years ago, has made the squad, which is based largely on last season’s Six Nations title-winning group.

There is also a place for scrumhalf Mike Phillips, who faced a meeting with Bayonne directors on Tuesday after he allegedly attended a video analysis session at the French club earlier this month while under the influence of alcohol.

Phillips, who has won 77 caps, could find himself facing a club suspension and be hit with a substantial fine.

Phillips, who was dropped for last Thursday’s Amlin Challenge Cup defeat by Wasps, has a checkered disciplinary record.

He was fined and suspended for 10 days by relegation-threatened Bayonne for an off-field incident last year, and was banned by Wales in 2011 following a confrontation with a doorman in Cardiff.

Asked about Phillips’s situation, Gatland added: “All I can say over the last campaigns with us he has been great. He conducted himself extremely well with the Lions in Australia, both on and off the field.

“I am expecting that same sort of attitude from him when he is involved in this (autumn) campaign.

“Obviously, there are slight concerns about making sure this is something that does not continue to be repeated.

“We will just sit down and have a quiet chat about where his head’s at and what he’s doing, but there will be no sanctions for him here in this set-up.”

Three players who made their Wales debuts on this summer’s tour to Japan – Cardiff Blues backs Rhys Patchell and Owen Williams, plus Scarlets hooker Emyr Phillips – also feature.

And there are also returns for Scarlets outhalf Rhys Priestland and Perpignan lock Luke Charteris, who both missed large parts of last season due to injury.

There are 13 members of this summer’s Lions tour squad in Australia that was coached by Gatland included.

Gatland said: “We have an important campaign ahead as we look to test ourselves against some of the best sides in the world, but also add strength in depth to our squad as we look to the future.

“We face a huge game against South Africa first up, and they will be coming to us after an impressive Rugby Championship campaign.

“Recent matches between us have been very close and physical, and that will be a great test for us to kick-off.

“All four matches will be a stern test, but we are looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to seeing what we can do on this stage.

“The Rugby World Cup is less than two years away, so we are looking to build as much depth in our squad as possible and to give vital international experience to our players.”

Scotland head coach Scott Johnson has named five uncapped players in a 41-man training squad to prepare for the autumn Tests against Japan, South Africa and Australia.

Glasgow Warriors trio Mark Bennett, Jonny Gray and Chris Fusaro have been called up for the first time along with London Irish backrow pair Kieran Low and Blair Cowan.

British and Irish Lions fullback Stuart Hogg is not included after undergoing surgery on an injured wrist.

Fusaro has been in squads before but the other four uncapped players have been selected for the first time.

Low has previously represented England under-20s but has pledged his future to Scotland thanks to his Dingwall-born grandfather.

The 22-year-old flanker said: “Committing to Scotland was an easy decision to make. I want to grab the chance to play international rugby.”

New Zealand-born backrow forward Cowan qualifies for Scotland through his Dunoon-born mother. The 27-year-old has previously played for Cornish Pirates and Worcester Warriors.

Cowan said: “The Scottish side has always been a strong part of my family, my career really kicked off in Great Britain and Scotland’s always been the country, in my mind, that I wanted to represent.”

Head coach Johnson added: “Low is a good, young player who is athletic and big enough to play at lock or blindside and we don’t have many players who can do that.

“One of the lessons from the South African tour, and especially given the attritional nature of the position, is that we must increase our backrow depth and compare the skills set of the players there.

“We know Ross Rennie is coming back to fitness and Chris Fusaro is an out-and-out seven. Cowan is a good, tough, energetic player who can play in every backrow position.”

Secondrow forward Gray, 19, joins older brother Richie Gray in the squad and, like 20-year-old centre Bennett, is a former Scotland under-20 captain.

Johnson said: “I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from Mark Bennett and Jonny Gray. They’ve been consistent, which is often a challenge for younger players, and they’ve shown the resolve to get better.”

WALES (squad for November Tests against South Africa, Argentina, Tonga and Australia) – Backs: L Williams (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), E Walker (Ospreys), G North (Northampton), J Hook (Perpignan), O Williams (Cardiff Blues), C Allen (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets), A Beck (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), R Patchell (Cardiff Blues), D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne), L Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Williams (Scarlets). Forwards: S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), A Jones (Ospreys), A Jarvis (Ospreys), P James (Bath), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), R Bevington (Ospreys), R Hibbard (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), E Phillips (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Perpignan), I Evans (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), A Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), R Jones (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), D Lydiate (Racing Metro), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

SCOTLAND (squad for a training camp in Glasgow October 27th-30th to prepare for autumn Tests against Japan, South Africa and Australia) – Backs: M Bennett (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Glasgow), De Luca (Edinburgh), A Dunbar (Glasgow), M Evans (Castres), T Heathcote (Bath), R Jackson (Glasgow), S Lamont (Glasgow), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), S Maitland (Glasgow), H Pyrgos (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Seymour (Glasgow), D Taylor (Saracens), G Tonks (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh), D Weir (Glasgow). Forwards: J Barclay (Scarlets), J Beattie (Montpellier), K Brown (Saracens), B Cowan (London Irish), G Cross (Edinburgh), D Denton (Edinburgh), A Dickinson (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), C Fusaro (Glasgow), G Gilchrist (Edinburgh) R Grant (Glasgow), J Gray (Glasgow), R Gray (Castres), J Hamilton (Montpellier), R Harley (Glasgow), A Kellock (Glasgow), S Lawson (Newcastle), K Low (London Irish), M Low (Glasgow), P MacArthur (Glasgow), E Murray (Worcester), A Strokosch (Perpignan), T Swinson (Glasgow), J Welsh (Glasgow). Invited to train with squad: Stuart McInally and Ross Rennie (both Edinburgh).