Wales names 2014 Six Nations squad

warren gatland

Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland has named an experienced 32-man squad to defend the RBS 6 Nations title as his side look to create history in 2014.

Led by captain Sam Warburton , the back-to-back Champions will aim to become the first side to win the title outright three years in succession.

The squad, which features 28 players who have been part of Championship winning squads, will meet up at the WRU National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan on Monday 20th January to prepare for their tournament opening clash againt Italy at the Millennium Stadium. The front-row features three British and Irish Lions in Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins alongside Scarlets quartet Ken Owen, Emyr Phillips, Rhodri Jones and Samson Lee. They are joined by Bath prop Paul James and Ospreys’ Ryan Bevington.

The second-row includes Andrew Coombs , who made his debut in last season’s competition along with fellow Championship winners Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Ian Evans. The back-row resources see Ospreys pair Justin Tipuric and Ryan Jones, Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate and Scarlets’ Aaron Shingler named alongside skipper Warburton.

At half-back Rhodri Williams , who made his debut in the Dove Men Series is named along with Ospreys’ Rhys Webb who returns to the International scene after injury and Racing Metro’s Mike Phillips. The Heineken Cup’s top points scorer Dan Biggar, Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland and Perpignan’s James Hook are named amongst thirteen backs. Five further British and Irish Lions are named with Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Alex Cuthbert, George North and Leigh Halfpenny joining Scarlets pair Scott Williams and Liam Williams.

After watching Rob Howley lead Wales to the title in 2013, Gatland is excited to return to Six Nations action and is looking forward to the challenge of defending the title.

“Last year was a fantastic year and I’m really excited to be back involved and this year is going to be a big challenge for us,” said Gatland. “We have got an opportunity to create history and that is something we will focus on and something that will give us extra motivation. We have got the three games at home and two tough away games but when we won the Grand Slam in 2008 and 2012 we had these fixtures so we know it can be done.

“The Six Nations is always a tough competition, you need a little bit of luck and momentum and that’s why we need to start well against Italy first up. Talking to the coaches we were a little bit slow starting last year and we know we need to start well on February 1st. We’ve picked a pretty experienced squad and kept it fairly tight at this stage.

“There is a possibility we may add one or two players in, there are a few younger guys that need a bit of rugby so we were keen for them to stay with the regions. Perhaps after the first couple of rounds when they have some more rugby under their belts we may add them into the squad.

“As we did last year which was hugely successful we are going to have the Wales U20 squad come in on Tuesday to train with us and we both got a huge amount from that. It gives us plenty of bodies and a good chance for those boys to come and train with the senior squad.

“One of the things we have tried to create is an environment where the players look forward to coming into the national team, we are blessed with some of the best facilities and the best stadium in the world so there is no lack of motivation for the players when they come in to the squad.

“We know there are some politics going on at the moment but we will put that to one side, come together as a group and focus on the rugby and what we can control.

“We can’t wait to kick off the tournament at home against Italy.

“We have got three matches at home, the Scotland match has already sold-out, there are just some single tickets left for France and Italy is not too far from being sold out as well so the atmosphere will be great. There is nothing better than playing in the best stadium in world with the Welsh fans behind us singing.”

WALES SQUAD 2014 RBS 6 NATIONS:

Forwards:
Paul James (Bath), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton Capt (Cardiff Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets)

Backs:
Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), James Hook (Perpignan), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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16 comments on “Wales names 2014 Six Nations squad

  1. Excepting any fitness issues, that’s a pretty strong squad

    To my mind the only real weakness is at fly-half and to a lesser extent, prop – although that said, I don’t know much about Rhodri Jones or Samson Lee.

    • Pablito, find a photo of Samson Lee.

      Looking like that and carrying the name of Samson, he has to be good doesn’t he?

  2. I’m surprisingly pleased with that squad, Rhodri Jones and Samson Lee are the future of Wales props, I expect a starting spot is another season off for them but I am starting to think Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins are living on past glories…

    Lloyd Williams has been totally anonymous this season for Blues, but I would have gone for Gareth Davies over Rhys Webb. Not sure the point of sticking with over the hill Ryan Jones either.

  3. Seems a pretty sound squad on paper with plenty exp. However Wales have 2 of their harder games away in England & Ireland… & they HAVE to beat France or it could be good night Vienna.

    It’ll be interesting to see how they stand up as in theory they could well win the whole thing… if it goes to plan? And if players are focused after the regional ‘split’ with the WRFU.

    The guy I really like is Justin Tipuric. I still recall that try HE created for North (I think) v England. Also rate Ryan Jones, Gethin Jenkins & bJames Hook.

  4. An unremarkable squad which is a good thing – this is a settled and pretty uncontentious selection which therefore means we can concentrate on whether they can deliver rather than whether we’re missing player X or Y. 3 championships on the bounce is unprecedented but we went away to Eng and Ire 2 years ago and did the GS so it’s within this group of players to do it. I can’t call it either way – I can see us anywhere between 4th and 1st this year, my instinct says 3rd.

    • Totally agree, besides Scotland and Italy it’s a hard one to predict. I think Ireland a consistently inconsistent, but France, Wales and England all have a good shot.

    • I still reckon Wales could pull it off, they just need to keep the injury count low in their first couple of matches. My instinct says 1st, but it’s a very shakey no-money-involved instinct.

  5. Jonathan Davies is named although he is apparantly no where near being ready to play but I can see him coming through for the last couple of games and hopefully in the same form as last year from “most improved ” player from a diabolical first half against Ireland to running amok for the first 15 mins against the Boks . Again pity he isn’t facing BOD too .

    Both Ireland and England have some emotional fuel to stoke the fires at home against us .I’ve even seen a few English comments to the effect that as long as they beat Wales they don’t otherwise care , nice to see the normal stereotype reversed ;-)

    Will the Welsh players (well those who still play in Wales anyway ) be distracted by the WRU/Region rumpus and as usual the regions have shown no form in Europe .In the past Wales haven’ performed well when distracted by outside matters but Gatland seems to be able to get into their psyche .

    I think a win in either Dublin or London will set us up for a third title but I don’t see us winning at both venues .

    • Ha ha. Not sure the win at all costs against Wales is a reversal of the long held Centre mantra but just a recognition that with only 2 competitive fixtures before we meet Wales in the World Cup we HAVE to improve our record against them, otherwise they’ll have a huge psychological advantage, which could be decisive. This England side has decent enough recent record against the other teams to make the odd loss against them less damaging.

      After this 6n the next time England face was at Twickenham will be in a potential world cup quarter final decider. This year’s match is HUGE. For England probably more important than the Championship.

    • Pontylad, I think that it is a cross that the English have to bear that every other 6N team traditionally views England as their “arch-enemy”.

      With the probable exception of Italy (although perhaps they should as England are – presently – the only 6N team they have not beaten).

      Away from the odd half-witted troll, I am not sure that the “as long as we beat XXX” view is very widely held in England, in the manner that some Welsh have subscribed to (and no doubt some still do).

      As Benjit says though, I think that beating Wales (in particular) and Ireland is very important for England, because (a) they are home games and any team with Englands pretensions should be winning all of their home games, and (b) it is a rehearsal of the WC game next year, and thus important psychologically.

      • Pontylad was right to call “The Welsh only want to beat England” a stereotype i.e. a crude, outdated and barely relevant generalisation. In the 90s/00s this was partly true – but that was because we were rubbish and England were top so if we could only win one game, then beating the champs would be the one we’d choose as it gave us a chance to affect the outcome of the 5/6 nations beyond just deciding where the spoon went. The English added plenty of spice e.g. the Sky TV deal, the reports of them looking to start a new champ with them/Fra/Sanzar so they’d have “meaningful” tournaments, the idea of making Eng/Fra the permanent final fixture as it was always the deciding match … such hubris can’t avoid generating a strong desire to wipe the smug grin off someone’s face. This is separate to what many English would seem to prefer to believe – that we’re racists who just have a problem with them because they’re English. To be clear then we have a problem with smug braggards, some of whom in the 90s/00s also happened to be involved in English rugby. This is not the same as disliking the English in general.

        Many point to last March as further evidence that “we only get up for the England game”. You could call it if that if you assume that it took some sort of gargantuan effort to inflict that scoreline on England. That’s probably the view of lots of English fans but it basically boils down to them bigging up their team. A lot of us didn’t see it that way. If we’d played like that against Ireland/France then the scoreline would not have been so conclusive. We beat what we considered at that time to be an average England team – one with a relatively light tight 5 (no Corbs, big loss, and a, to us, overrated Cole – to clarify, he is very good but the amount of people saying he was better than Adam was becoming a deluge) and backs with the deft and dexterity of wet toilet paper because their only creativity seemed to be “give it to Tuilagi”. They had had a muted 6 nations up to that point and we were improving. I said at the time I was expecting us to win and the poor performance of England against Italy meant that giving us an 8 point target, rather than say the expected 20 or so, would make it a game we’d come out of the blocks quickly in, and that is what happened. It didn’t happen because it was England, it happened because we had the chance to win the title, at home, after what had been a pretty poor 6 nations for us.

        I’m always surprised that some English take such umbrage when it’s suggested that the Wales game in this years tournament will be their most important. We have won the last two six nations titles. We have more slams and titles in the last decade than anyone. If you want to win the six nations then certainly beating the defending champions is a top goal? Yes, the WC group adds some excellent extra spice, but surely the English need no more reason to beat us than the fact that currently we are top dogs in this tournament and they want to replace us in that position?

        Notice I choose my words about us carefully. We’re champs but I’m not saying we’re the best team (because then I’d get all the “but you didn’t beat Aus and we did” responses), but it does seem to be that although many fans say we’re not the best team in Europe (because we can’t beat SH sides, and nobody is more disappointed about that than me) we still seem to have won the title 2 years on the trot, won 9 6Ns games out of 10 in the last two years.

        • I do completely agree with much of what you’ve said Brighty.

          Although, I do think that the Wales game holds significance mainly because of the WC group over winning the 6Ns. I would worry about England psychologically going into the WC group stages having lost the last two home games against Wales.

          We certainly MUST beat Wales this year, for that reason alone. Winning the 6Ns would be great, but not a priority at present. I’d rather see our pack continue to develop and also get together a settled back line (although that will be hard with Yarde, Wade and Tuilagi out).

          It could be very conceivable based on recent results that the WC group comes down to points different if England beat Australia, Wales beat England then Australia beat Wales. Based on recent results that is very possible – could become very interesting against the other nations.

  6. Got cut off…

    Was about to c’tinue regds… Ryan Jones; regret that he is a periphera player these days when he was once touted a Lions Capt’n. Should be used more by Wales?

    Also reckon Gethin Jenkins is still a rock in the fr row?

    But I cannot understand Gatland’s neglect of James Hook. Hook’s exp, kicks goals & can play almost anywhere in the b/line. Why not fly1/? I mean, in my view, the Welsh kicker’s missing his goals in the last WC in fact put Wales out (I know Warburton dropped the guy on his nut to get red & it was to Wales’ detriment, but the missed kicks really dun for them). Would JH have done better? Never know now.

    Bit late now too I know, but I never understood why the relatively ponderous, slow witted & predictable tank Phillips was preffed to Dwayne Peel. The latter surely was more sharpe witted, less predictable and had more strings to his bow than Robin wotsisname? Bigger is better I guess & sadly it’s all history now.

    Don’t quite understand Blighty’s pessimism (are all Welshmen as gloomy as Rob Brydon says?) regds Wales. They ought to have as good a shout as any surely? Altho they have a harder run than England in that, as aforementioned, they have 2 of those games away, they have a better midfield than England (who doesn’t) & so long as they hold them up front & esp @ breakdown… & when they do have the ball, create & score TRIES by running straight &/or utilising dummy runners or the odd wrap around, miss pass & wing/f/back joining the line, then they should stroll it shouldn’t they? Simple. Well in theory anyway.

    • Gloomy ! Sh*te have you seen our weather

      James Hook goes off message too much for Gatland put it this way even in France they have shifted him to full back . At the end of the day gatland makes hard decisions on selection and better players than Hooky have been dropped by him ( sop to the IRish there )and overall Gatland has been correct.

      Peel was touted for a 100 caps but let’s say player power or Gatlands decision to stamp on it did for him as well as others something Mike RUddock failed to learn to his cost.

      Good shout yes we will walk it of course but will lose our next 10 games to the SH big 3 which is as certain as the WRU and the regions smoking the pipe of peace .