Joe Hawkins omitted from Wales’ preliminary 54-man World Cup training squad

Joe Hawkins omitted from Wales’ preliminary 54-man World Cup training squad

Wales have omitted Joe Hawkins from their preliminary World Cup training squad.

Ospreys centre Hawkins has been capped five times since making his international debut last November, but doubts were cast over the 20-year-old’s eligibility following his decision to join Exeter next season.

Hawkins falls short of the 25-cap clause for players plying their trade outside Wales, and the Welsh Rugby Union had to decide whether he signed a contract with Exeter prior to making his debut.

If he had done, Hawkins would still be eligible for international rugby because he was an uncapped player.

Forward Will Rowlands has been named in a 54-player strong training squad for this autumn’s event in France.

Rowlands, who will leave the Dragons for Paris-based Racing 92 in December, has won 23 caps and could reach the qualifying mark in pre-World Cup friendlies against England and South Africa.

There was no room for Scarlets prop Wyn Jones, who was part of the British and Irish Lions squad in 2021, while Ospreys centre Owen Watkin also misses out.

Ten uncapped players have been named in the squad, including Montpellier prop Henry Thomas who won seven caps for England, with his last appearance coming in 2014.

Cory Hill
Cory Hill is also named in the squad (David Davies/PA)

Cory Hill has also been called up following the recent change in the selection criteria on exiled players.

The 31-year-old – who can play at lock or blindside – earned his last Wales cap in 2021 and currently plies his trade for the Yokohama Canon Eagles in Japan.

Leigh Halfpenny, who is due to leave Scarlets at the end of the season, is named in the squad alongside Gareth Anscombe, who missed the Six Nations through injury.

Anscombe faces competition at outside-half from Dan Biggar and Owen Williams, while Sam Costelow has also been named.

Wales will start their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Bordeaux on September 10, with their pool also consisting of Australia, Georgia and Portugal.

Wales’ preliminary training squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Forwards: Rhys Carre, Corey Domachowski, Kemsley Mathias, Nicky Smith, Gareth Thomas, Eliott Dee, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Ken Owens, Keiron Assiratti, Tomas Francis, Will Davies-King, Dillon Lewis, Henry Thomas, Adam Beard, Ben Carter, Rhys Davies, Cory Hill, Dafydd Jenkins, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands, Christ Tshiunza, Teddy Williams, Taine Basham, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Macleod, Jac Morgan, Tommy Reffell, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Rhys Webb, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Sam Costelow, Owen Williams, Mason Grady, Max Llewellyn, George North, Joe Roberts, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Keiran Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Rio Dyer, Cai Evans, Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tom Rogers, Liam Williams.