Hansen announces World Cup squad
September 1, 2003

Llanelli forward Chris Wyatt has been overlooked for a place in Wales' World Cup squad, announced today by coach Steve Hansen.

Wyatt, capped 36 times, is among a handful of players to miss out, with Cardiff pair Jamie Robinson and Ben Evans also ignored.

But there are call-ups for Shane Williams, whose versatility as a wing or scrum-half will be priceless in Australia, Llanelli wing Garan Evans and Celtic Warriors lock Brent Cockbain, brother of Australia international Matt.

Welsh-qualified Cockbain has only made one Test match appearance, but at 6ft 8in tall, was deemed better-suited than Wyatt as part of Wales' second-row combination.

Hansen has named 31 players, and will reduce his current four-strong contingent of hookers to three by the World Cup deadline date of September 10.

The main worry is Llanelli hooker Robin McBryde, who has a toe injury, while Gareth Williams is nursing a back problem.

``Chris Wyatt has been very, very unlucky to miss out on a second World Cup,'' said Hansen.

``Naturally, he is disappointed, and we have had a long talk, and I still see him having a future for Wales. Unfortunately, we could only take four locks withus this time.

``The combination we have selected we feel is better suited for this particular tournament.''

``Overall, the selection process was a difficult one to go through as, for once, we have more than 30 quality players to choose from.

``But by being allowed to use the games in August for selection purposes, our overall selection has been aided.

``This has been a tough selection process. There has been so much at stake for all the players over the past few weeks, and they have trained exceptionally hard as a group.

``Everyone involved in the build-up to our four Tests in August showed the kind of burning desire required to play for their country, but, because we are restricted to 30 players in Australia, there are obviously some very disappointed men today.''

Hansen revealed that versatility was important in some areas of selection, identifying Rhys Williams, Gareth Thomas and Tom Shanklin as particular examples, in addition to Shane Williams and former Leeds rugby league star Iestyn Harris.

Full-back Kevin Morgan though, who makes the squad, despite his five-month injury absence. Given Morgan's lack of match sharpness, he could feature in Celtic League action this month before Wales depart Down Under.

Hansen said that he would be ``addressing the captaincy issue'' at a later date.

Hansen's World Cup captain - Martyn Williams, Colin Charvis and Stephen Jones appear to be the main candidates - should be confirmed following a forthcoming training camp in Lanzarote.

``For those players selected, there is a huge challenge ahead,'' Hansen said.

``We are targeting a minimum of five matches in the tournament and a place among the elite eight teams in the world by the time we return is the minimum standard we have set for ourselves.

``Our draw in Pool D is perfectly set-up for us. We all believe we are good enough to beat Canada, Tonga and Italy, and then go into our final pool game against the All Blacks full of confidence.''

Wales are in the same qualifying group as New Zealand, Italy, Canada and Tonga Down Under, and are likely to meet England in the quarter-finals if they get that far.

Wales squad for Rugby World Cup:

Backs: Kevin Morgan (Celtic Warriors), Rhys Williams (Cardiff Blues), Garan Evans (Llanelli Scarlets), Gareth Thomas (Celtic Warriors), Mark Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), Mark Taylor (Llanelli Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), Sonny Parker (Celtic Warriors), Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues), Ceri Sweeney (Celtic Warriors), Stephen Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), Dwayne Peel (Llanelli Scarlets), Gareth Cooper (Celtic Warriors), Shane Williams (Neath-Swansea Ospreys).

Forwards: Jonathan Thomas (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues), Colin Charvis (unattached), Dafydd Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), Alix Popham (Leeds Tykes), Michael Owen (Gwent Dragons), Gareth Llewellyn (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), Robert Sidoli (Celtic Warriors), Brent Cockbain (Celtic Warriors), Gethin Jenkins (Celtic Warriors), Adam Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), Duncan Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), Iestyn Thomas (Llanelli Scarlets), Gareth Williams (Cardiff Blues), Robin McBryde (Llanelli Scarlets), Huw Bennett (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), Mefin Davies (Celtic Warriors).

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