Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Williams omitted from Wales squad

Martyn Williams

Martyn Williams has been left out of Wales' RBS 6 Nations squad in a shock omission by head coach Warren Gatland.

The 35-year-old, who has won 98 caps and featured on the last three British and Irish Lions tours, misses Gatland's cut for a tournament that Wales kick off against England in 12 days' time. Gatland has opted for youth as his openside options in the form of Williams' Blues colleague Sam Warburton and Scarlets' highly-rated Josh Turnbull.

It could signal the end of Williams' illustrious Test career, which began in 1996 and has seen him move to within two appearances of joining Gareth Thomas as only the second Welsh cap centurion.

Gatland's 28-man party includes five uncapped players in Turnbull, Scarlets back Rhys Priestland, front-row forwards Ryan Bevington and Scott Andrews, plus back-row prospect Toby Faletau.

Williams is not the only player to miss out, with the likes of Dan Biggar, Tom James, Aled Brew, Tom Prydie, Huw Bennett and Ian Gough also deemed surplus to requirements.

Gatland also has to contend with a lengthy injury list, as absentees include props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, centre Tom Shanklin and wing George North, while scrum-half Richie Rees is banned until late March.

Experienced Sale Sharks number nine Dwayne Peel returns to the squad after missing out during the autumn series, joining fellow scrum-halves Mike Phillips and Tavis Knoyle, with other notable inclusions being fit-again Lions backs Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny.

And wing Shane Williams, Wales' record try-scorer, is also back just over two months after dislocating his shoulder during the defeat against world champions South Africa, while former Wales captain and back-row regular Ryan Jones has been bracketed among the locks alongside Alun-Wyn Jones and Bradley Davies.

Squad: Backs: L Byrne (Ospreys), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), M Stoddart (Scarlets), S Williams (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Ospreys), R Priestland (Scarlets), S Jones (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys), D Peel (Sale Sharks), T Knoyle (Scarlets).

Forwards: P James (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), C Mitchell (Ospreys), R Bevington (Ospreys), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets, capt), R Hibbard (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Powell (Wasps).

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