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Thread: Wales 28 Man Squad to Australia

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    Wales 28 Man Squad to Australia

    Wales announce touring squad

    April 30, 2007 - 9:40pm

    Gareth Thomas will lead Wales’s 28-man squad on tour to Australia next month.
    Thomas will lead a party that head coach Gareth Jenkins believes will be “highly competitive” with the prospect of Rugby World Cup selection as the carrot.
    While 28 players will head down under, Jenkins is leaving behind 18 players who will begin an intensive summer conditioning schedule ahead of the World Cup kick-off in September.

    Jenkins is entering the final phase of his Rugby World Cup 2007 preparations and is prepared to cast both age and past reputations aside when he picks his 30-man squad for the French-based tournament.

    After the tour to Australia, Jenkins will shave his preparation squad down to 38-40 before finally selecting 30 players to play at the Rugby World Cup. Selection, he says, will be based entirely on the ‘here and now’ – meaning places are still very much up for grabs.

    An eight week summer training camp, run by national fitness coach Mark Bennett, will keep those 18 internationals players not touring in peak condition, with Jenkins and his fellow coaches urging the players in Australia to force their way into contention for France.

    “Ultimately we will be picking the group of 30 players that we believe will give us the best chance of winning the Rugby World Cup,” said Jenkins. “If you’re playing well then you are never too old and never too young. Selection will be about the here and now and so those players in possession of the shirts on tour to Australia have every chance of holding on to them.

    “There are some players who have not had the opportunity to show us their talents. We finished the Six Nations strongly and were able to maintain consistency of selection during that campaign, but we also have an open mind and this tour will help us gain clarity of thought certain areas of selection.

    “Gareth (Thomas) will lead from the front in his own inimitable style and there are other seasoned campaigners with us who will be eager to show they can offer us options at this level.

    “Together with those experienced players who have the chance to shine, we also have a need to develop more young leaders in this squad and Australia could well be the place where they come to the fore.”

    Despite leaving many of his 2007 Six Nations starting XV at home, Jenkins is convinced the squad he is taking to Australia is all about “performance rather than development”.

    Gavin Henson said of his inclusion:
    “I was shocked but delighted to get the phone call this morning but I’m determined to give 100% during this tour. I’ve been out of rugby for four or five months but I’ve been working hard on my rehab.

    “It’s been a difficult year for me on the rugby field but this news has given me a real boost. I’m just pleased to get back into the squad environment and to be given the chance to play international rugby again.”

    The tour will continue to nurture the talents of James Hook, Jamie Robinson, Aled Brew and Michael Phillips whilst also retaining almost 300 caps-worth of international experience in skipper Thomas (94), Colin Charvis (84), Dafydd James (45), Mefin Davies (37) and Michael Owen (34).

    Also included is Ospreys centre Gavin Henson, who is back in training with the Ospreys and due to play for his region before the end of the season.

    “Gavin is an important player for us and we want to give him the best opportunity to force his way into the World Cup reckoning. It will be good to have him back in the squad in Australia and we can monitor his fitness and form as we build towards September,” said Jenkins.

    Those players remaining at home to train will be put through their paces by fitness guru Bennett utilising the power, speed and conditioning programmes available at the University of Wales Institute, Cyncoed, Swansea University and the Vale of Glamorgan Hotel.

    Players will also be tested at Glamorgan University as Bennett attempts to present his coach with a group of athletes at the peak of their physical conditioning in time for the Rugby World Cup campaign.

    “We needed a certain standard of training facility for these players to do the work necessary to peak at the right time and we didn’t have to look far,” said Jenkins.

    “Wales has an excellent infrastructure which feeds its national sport and we have based two summer camps in East and West Wales to cut down on travel and maximise training and recovery times.

    “When we return from Australia we’ll come up with a training squad of around 47 players who will continue to be put through their paces in the lead up to our Invesco Perpetual Summer Series matches at the Millennium Stadium against France and Argentina.

    “Then, as the tournament approaches, we will trim down again to 30 players and everybody involved with us at the moment has a contribution to make to this squad. It’s fair to say they all have a chance of making the cut.

    “It will be one of the toughest decisions of my coaching career when it comes down to it and I know every one of these players will be doing their utmost to make it even tougher – and that’s exactly the kind of elite sport environment we are looking to create.”

    WALES SQUAD TO TOUR AUSTRALIA 2007

    Forwards:

    Iestyn Thomas (Scarlets), Ceri Jones (Harlequins) Rhys Thomas (Dragons), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Mefin Davies (Gloucester), Brent Cockbain (Ospreys), Rob Sidoli (Blues), Scott Morgan (Blues), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Gavin Thomas (Scarlets), Robin Sowden-Taylor (Blues), Colin Charvis (Dragons), Michael Owen (Dragons)

    Backs:

    Lee Byrne (Ospreys), Chris Czekaj (Blues), Hal Luscombe (NEC Harlequins), Dafydd James (Scarlets), Jamie Robinson (Blues), Gareth Thomas (Toulouse - Captain), Gavin Henson (Ospreys), Aled Brew (Dragons), Ceri Sweeney (Dragons), James Hook (Ospreys), Gareth Cooper (Dragons), Mike Phillips (Blues), Andy Williams (Bath)

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    Johnson Warns Wallabies Against Complacency

    Johnson Warns Wallabies Against Complacency

    May 01, 2007 - 2:44pm
    Story by: ARU


    Qantas Wallabies Assistant Coach and former Wales Head Coach Scott Johnson today issued a warning to the Wallabies to not underestimate a new look Wales squad in the upcoming Bundaberg Rum Rugby Series.

    The Qantas Wallabies, who play Wales at Telstra Stadium on 26 May, before moving north to Suncorp Stadium a week later, played out a nail-biting 29-all draw in their last meeting in November and will now look to inflict a psychological blow before their crucial Rugby World Cup pool match in September.

    Johnson has an intimate knowledge of Welsh rugby after stints as Assistant Coach and Head Coach in 2005 and believes the Wallabies will need to respect the Wales squad announced overnight.

    “Welsh Rugby has greatly increased in depth in recent years and the team they are bringing out is brimming with international experience and are highly suited to Test rugby,” said Johnson.

    “The 18 players they have left at home were all part of the Welsh team that finished equal bottom of this year’s Six Nations, so I don’t think the new players coming in can be regarded as second choice.”

    “Based on the number of changes I think the Welsh coaching staff will use these matches to draw out their best 30 and will be testing as many players as they can before the World Cup”.

    Johnson said that the inclusion of six British & Irish Lions players – Gareth Thomas (captain), Gavin Henson, Gareth Cooper, Brent Cockbain, Michael Owen and Dafydd James – will add invaluable experience and resolve to the Welsh outfit.

    “Six of this squad has played with the British & Irish Lions and they will chomping at the bit to have a crack at the Wallabies. They know a good tour in Australia will put them into a strong position to be in the squad in France.”

    “This touring forward pack will have more experience and be more abrasive than their Six Nations counterparts.”

    “Come World Cup, there’s a good chance that there will be many players from this tour in their squad in France”.


    Qantas Wallabies v Wales,

    Saturday 26 May 2007
    Telstra Stadium, Sydney

    Qantas Wallabies v Wales,

    Saturday 2 June 2007
    Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

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    Wales calls up fresh pair

    From correspondents in Cardiff
    May 09, 2007


    PROP Jamie Corsi and centre Sonny Parker have been called up into the Wales squad to tour Australia by coach Gareth Jenkins.

    Corsi and Parker come in for Rhys Thomas and Dafydd James who were ruled out of the tour through injury.

    Thomas, Corsi's Newport Gwent Dragons teammate, is out for three weeks with knee ligament damage while James faces surgery to repair cartilage in his knee.

    Wales also lost versatile back Hal Luscombe, who has returned to South Africa for personal reasons and Jenkins will make a decision on his replacement after this weekend's Magners League games.

    Jenkins had already decided to name a shadow squad for the two-Test tour, leaving the bulk of his World Cup players at home for a summer training camp.

    "We wanted to have a good look at all three players and it is disappointing to lose them at this stage," Jenkins said.

    "We were all looking forward to working with Rhys who has been out of action for some time with another injury and Daf was also chomping at the bit to get on the plane, but the hope is that all three will still have a chance to show us their worth before we finalise our World Cup squad."

    Corsi, 19, has only played six times this season for the Dragons but Jenkins has full confidence he can handle the step up to Test rugby.

    "Jamie is a young prop who has caught the eye at youth level. He has a big future in the game and we are both confident and comfortable that he will take the step up and benefit from the opportunity presented to him," Jenkins said.

    Agence France-Presse

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