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Wales continue without trio

Wales' World Cup training squad will reconvene next Monday with three notable absentees.

Head coach Warren Gatland's final 31-man group for the England-hosted World Cup next month might be more than a fortnight away from being announced, but for three British and Irish Lions the dream is already over.

Half-backs James Hook and Mike Phillips, in addition to hooker Richard Hibbard, can only reflect on failing to make Gatland's penultimate squad cut.

The trio boast 210 Wales caps between them, yet along with Jack Dixon, Rhys Patchell, Nicky Smith, Rory Thornton and Dan Baker, they are now no longer required.

"It has been a difficult task reducing the squad down and deciding who will meet up with us again on Monday," Gatland said.

"All the players involved over the past eight weeks have put a huge amount of effort in. The intensity and dedication from the players out in Switzerland and Qatar has been really impressive.

"That makes our job a lot harder, but as we continue to move into our rugby-focused phase of training, it's important we reduce the squad number down.

"There will be disappointment from the players, but it's important to stress that the door is not closed.

"We name our final Rugby World Cup squad on August 31, and a lot can happen between now and then.

"As a squad we will now meet up again on Monday to continue preparing for Ireland away, which is just over a fortnight away."

Players remaining in the 38-strong training squad include wing Eli Walker, centre Tyler Morgan, lock Dominic Day and flanker Ross Moriarty, who all made their Test debuts in a 35-21 World Cup warm-up defeat against Ireland six days ago.

And with Baker gone it strengthens the prospect of Gloucester forward Moriarty, whose father Paul and uncle Richard both played for Wales at the 1987 World Cup, providing an option at flanker or number eight in Gatland's final squad.

After the return Ireland game in Dublin on August 29, Wales play their concluding warm-up fixture at home against Italy seven days later. Their opening World Cup match is a Millennium Stadium appointment with Uruguay on September 20, followed by further pool games against England, Fiji and Australia.


From Belfast Telegraph