Gatland names two rookies in Wales squad
Jonah Holmes and Luke Morgan included in squad for autumn internationals
Leicester’s Jonah Holmes in action against Ulster in the Champions Cup last weekend. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The 26-year-olds, who play for Leicester and the Ospreys respectively, are the only international rookies among a 37-man group named by the Welsh Rugby Union for games against Scotland, Australia, Tonga and South Africa next month.
Holmes qualifies for Wales through a grandparent, while Morgan is Wales’ all-time sevens points scorer.
“The two uncapped players in Luke and Jonah are both form, back-three players, and we are looking forward to seeing them in this environment and seeing what they can do,” Gatland said.
Gatland, though, is without the likes of Scarlets flankers Aaron Shingler and James Davies, Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau, Cardiff Blues back-row forward Josh Navidi and Ospreys centre Scott Williams due to injuries.
Also on the injury list are Blues forward Seb Davies and wing Owen Lane, who had been widely backed for a call-up, and experienced Dragons back Hallam Amos.
But Gatland welcomes back eight British and Irish Lions to his squad following Wales’ successful summer tour of Argentina, including skipper Alun Wyn Jones, centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Ken Owens.
The back-row resources comprise the experienced Dan Lydiate, Ellis Jenkins, who was squad co-captain in Argentina, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty, but Dragons flanker Ollie Griffiths is a surprise absentee.
And there is also a call-up for Dragons centre Tyler Morgan, who started Wales’ 2015 World Cup quarter-final defeat against South Africa at Twickenham.
Wales face Scotland in their opening game at the Principality Stadium on November 3rd.
Gatland added “This autumn is the start of a 12-month countdown to the Rugby World Cup and it is a huge opportunity for the players.
“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 and 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’, it’s just a reflection of where we are depth-wise and the opportunity to look at other players.
“A further eight players haven’t been selected due to injury. Dependent on their recovery, they could be called in at a later date.
A Davies (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets), T Williams (Cardiff Blues), G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), D Biggar (Northampton), R Patchell (Scarlets), J Davies (Scarlets), T Morgan (Dragons), H Parkes (Scarlets), O Watkin (Ospreys), J Adams (Worcester), S Evans (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Scarlets), J Holmes (Leicester), L Morgan (Ospreys), G North (Ospreys), L Williams (Saracens).
R Evans (Scarlets), W Jones (Scarlets), N Smith (Ospreys), E Dee (Dragons), R Elias (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), L Brown (Dragons), T Francis (Exeter), S Lee (Scarlets), D Lewis (Cardiff Blues), J Ball (Scarlets), A Beard (Ospreys), B Davies (Ospreys), C Hill (Dragons), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), E Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), D Lydiate (Ospreys), R Moriarty (Dragons), J Tipuric (Ospreys), A Wainwright (Dragons).