Wales training Aaron Jarvis to cover hooker
PA Sport
September 3, 2015
© (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Wales have identified tight-head prop Aaron Jarvis as a player to provide possible emergency cover at hooker during the World Cup.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland named only two hookers - Scott Baldwin and Ken Owens - rather than a more conventional three in his 31-man World Cup squad that was announced earlier this week. It has raised concerns in some quarters that Wales, who are grouped with fellow World Cup heavyweights England and Australia, might lack suitable reserves if injuries strike.

Australia boss Michael Cheika has also only selected two hookers in his squad. Baldwin rests a minor toe injury on Saturday when Wales play their final tournament warm-up game against Millennium Stadium visitors Italy, with Cardiff Blues forward Kristian Dacey - who has not gained World Cup selection - providing bench back-up.

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Wales could conceivably add a third hooker to their resources during the competition - Dacey and Richard Hibbard would be options - but only if another squad member, regardless of position, suffers a tournament-ending injury. If Baldwin or Owens are injured once the World Cup has started, then any replacement would have to be in Wales' camp for at least 48 hours before playing. The injured player, meanwhile, could not play any later World Cup role, once replaced.

"We are doing some stuff with Aaron Jarvis at the moment," Gatland said. "Look, it's been highlighted that it's a little bit of a risk. Everyone is taking risks. The All Blacks have only picked three second-rows, some teams have picked two nines and two 10s.

"In every team, you've got some sort of exposure somewhere. We've looked at it, and if one of our second-rows goes down we would maybe replace them with a hooker. You've got to potentially have someone else to cover. That's the risk you take. We have weighed that up.

"It means if one of the hookers gets injured within 72 hours of a game, then you've got someone to cover, and then that hooker has got to get injured as well before you go to the final choice. You would be pretty unlucky if that ends up being the case, but we have got to make sure we plan for that.

"It's like everything, you've got to take a few punts and gamble a little bit. We know we are taking a bit of a risk here. Hindsight is a great thing, and hopefully we don't get caught out."

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