Warren Gatland will name his 33-man Wales squad for the World Cup on Monday morning – with Jac Morgan expected to be named as captain

Warren Gatland will name his 33-man Wales squad for the World Cup in France on Monday morning and the vast majority of the players pick themselves.

Head coach Gatland’s tournament selection was made easier after he watched the rookie Wales side he fielded against 2019 world champions South Africa be hammered 52-16. 

It was a brutal afternoon for the next generation of Welsh talent who were given their chance to prove they should be on the plane to France.

Defeat by the Springboks was no surprise. It was a cruel lesson for the likes of young backs Tom Rogers and Mason Grady. South Africa scored eight tries.

Jac Morgan is expected to be named as Wales’ World Cup captain at the age of just 23. Experienced back Leigh Halfpenny will be sweating on his place.

Warren Gatland will name his 33-man Wales squad for the World Cup on Monday morning

Gatland's decision will be made easier after their recent humiliation against South Africa

Gatland’s decision will be made easier after their recent humiliation against South Africa

Gatland won’t tell those players selected – or those who have missed out – until this Monday as the final squad resembles a closely-guarded secret.


Forwards (19)

Props: Corey Domachowski, Gareth Thomas, Nicky Smith, Tomas Francis, Henry Thomas, Dillon Lewis.

Hookers: Dewi Lake, Ryan Elias, Elliot DeeSecond row: Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Dafydd Jenkins

Back-row: Taine Plumtree, Jac Morgan (capt), Tommy Reffell, Taulupe Faletau, Aaron Wainwright, Dan Lydiate, Rhys Davies

Backs (14)

Scrum-half: Tomos Williams, Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy

Fly-half: Dan Biggar, Gareth Anscombe, Sam Costelow

Centre: Nick Tompkins, George North, Mason Grady, Johnny Williams

Back three: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Leigh Halfpenny

Centre Johnny Williams – who started against South Africa for his first minutes on the field this summer – was one player who did emerge with credit at Principality Stadium.

Williams hopes Monday’s announcement will crown a remarkable turnaround for him.

‘Four years ago, I was watching the World Cup from a hospital bed,’ Williams said.‘So the ability to maybe be playing at the tournament four years later is hard to sum up in words. Every working day has been towards playing for Wales and going to the World Cup.’

In June 2019, not long after he represented England in an uncapped clash with the Barbarians, Williams was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

He made a swift recovery after undergoing chemotherapy and watched the last World Cup from Japan while having treatment.

Williams moved from Newcastle to Welsh region Scarlets and has gone on to become a full international for the country he grew up supporting.

‘My dad has been taking me to Cardiff to watch the internationals ever since I can remember,’ Williams said.‘I just remember I really wanted to be on the pitch and play for Wales. Hopefully it will all be topped off on Monday with selection for the World Cup.‘These 12 to 13 weeks have been the most enjoyable I’ve had with Wales. We’ve got close and we’ll be supporting each other.

‘There are going to be some disappointed people and some very proud people as well. It’s about being close as a group. ‘Just because someone doesn’t make it, it doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of the World Cup.

‘There could be injuries and they could be called back into the squad.’

23-year-old Jac Morgan is expected to be named as Wales' captain for the tournament

23-year-old Jac Morgan is expected to be named as Wales’ captain for the tournament

Gatland has heavily hinted he will take 19 forwards and 14 backs to France. The New Zealander finalised his squad on Saturday night and Sunday morning with back-row and centre the areas where he faces the toughest selection calls. Gatland also has injuries to consider.

He remains hopeful Gareth Anscombe, Taulupe Faletau, Ryan Elias, Dafydd Jenkins, Taine Plumtree and Dewi Lake will all be fit for World Cup duty after knocks. Wales face Fiji in their Pool C opener in Bordeaux on September 10.

Young wing Rio Dyer showed he has significantly improved his defence against South Africa, even if he was yellow carded and had a penalty try awarded against him. Dyer was judged – harshly in Gatland’s view – to have deliberately knocked the ball into touch to stop Canan Moodie from scoring. The Springbok wing still scored twice anyway.

Despite Dyer’s progress, he too is touch and go to make Wales’ 33. He can only play wing and Gatland has indicated he will take just four back three players.

Liam Williams, Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit are certainties so Dyer is potentially vying with Halfpenny for a spot. Halfpenny is nearing the end of his career at 34, but his reliability, goal kicking and ability to play both wing and full-back is a bonus. He is ideal back-line cover.

Gatland is set to take three scrum-halves to France, with Kieran Hardy – who started against South Africa – likely to be back-up to Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies.

Hardy’s three-month-old daughter Noa was taken ill before Wales’ defeat by England at Twickenham. He pulled out of the game 90 minutes before kick-off.

Youngster Rio Dyer showed promise but it's touch and go as to whether he'll make the squad

Youngster Rio Dyer showed promise but it’s touch and go as to whether he’ll make the squad

Hardy’s wife Ellie revealed the couple’s child was tested for sepsis and meningitis after being diagnosed with a viral infection. Thankfully, she is now making a full recovery.‘It’s been a difficult week after pulling out of the game last week,’ Hardy said.

‘Family always comes first. Warren and the management team were fantastic. They said I needed to be there and within half an hour, I was home. It does put things into perspective.

‘My family and Ellie’s family have been great in letting me be here this week. It definitely motivates me. Ellie actually told me to try and play for the girls as much as I can.

‘Thankfully, things changed pretty quickly. She (Noa) is a lot better now and hopefully now I can move forward and concentrate on the rugby.’

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