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Wales confirm World Cup squad after 'a few robust discussions'

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Simon Galloway/PA Images via Getty Images)

Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham has named his 32-strong squad for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Siwan Lillicrap leads the side as squad captain with Hannah Jones named as vice-captain. Three players – Sioned Harries, Elinor Snowsill and Caryl Thomas – are set to participate in their fourth World Cup while 19 players are making their World Cup debut.

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These include Lowri Norkett, whose sister Elli played for Wales in the 2014 World Cup. Elli tragically passed away in 2017 aged 20. Norkett has also accepted the offer of a full-time contract until the end of the year while Abbie Fleming and Robyn Wilkins move from part-time to full-time contracts in line with all other squad players.

Cunningham said: “We are delighted with the group we have settled on and we are really looking forward to seeing what we can do when we touch down in New Zealand next week. There were a few robust discussions and you are always looking at combinations, scenarios we could face over a long period in New Zealand and importantly, ways you can get the best players on the pitch.

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“But overall we are pleased with where we are. We have had two tough warm-up matches which were exactly what we needed and we are just very excited about what is in front of us.

“Siwan is a brilliant captain. She has a great tactical mind and an understanding of what calls to make at what moment. Her communication with referees and her game management skills are second to none. She certainly benefits the team in many ways.

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“Having said that, we are growing our leadership group and Hannah has led the team by example against Canada and England this summer. Her work ethic is high and she is going to be a strong leader too. Hannah is learning a lot from Siwan and the two have worked together in recent weeks. The pair complement each other in many aspects.

“As a coach, you are always delighted when someone works really hard and forces their way into a team or squad. Lowri Norkett is one of those. She has come in, trained her socks off and fully deserves her place. We have players experiencing their first World Cup and what an opportunity to do that in New Zealand and we will obviously draw on the experiences of Sioned, Elinor and Caryl during the tournament.”

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It’s an emotional call-up for 38-times capped Kerin Lake, who is fulfilling her long-time dream of making it to a World Cup having missed out on two, the first after giving birth to nine-year-old son Jacob.

She said: “It’s a bit surreal, to be honest. I know the coaches have taken a gamble on me as I’ve been fighting back from injury for most of the summer. Once it sinks in I just want to do everything I can to kick on now and hopefully get on the pitch for the team. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been part of the full-time programme from a rehab point of view.”

Wales World Cup squad
Backs (14):

Keira Bevan (Bristol Bears)
Lleucu George (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Jasmine Joyce (Bristol Bears)
Kerin Lake (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Lisa Neumann (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Ffion Lewis (University of Worcester Warriors)
Lowri Norkett (University of Worcester Warriors)
Kayleigh Powell (Bristol Bears)
Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears)
Niamh Terry (University of Worcester Warriors)
Megan Webb (Bristol Bears)
Robyn Wilkins (Exeter Chiefs)
Carys Williams-Morris (Loughborough-Lightning)

Forwards (18):
Alisha Butchers (Bristol Bears)
Alex Callender (University of Worcester Warriors)
Gwen Crabb (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Georgia Evans (Saracens)
Kat Evans (Saracens)
Abbie Fleming (Exeter Chiefs )
Cerys Hale (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Sioned Harries (University of Worcester Warriors)
Cara Hope (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Natalia John (University of Worcester Warriors)
Kelsey Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Bethan Lewis (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Gwenllian Pyrs (Bristol Bears)
Donna Rose (Saracens)
Siwan Lillicrap (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Carys Phillips (University of Worcester Warriors)
Caryl Thomas (University of Worcester Warriors)
Sisilia Tuipulotu (Gloucester-Hartpury)

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J
Jon 1 hours ago
Buoyant England travel to New Zealand full of hope but are they walking into an All Blacks ambush?

> New head coach Scott Robertson has kept only forwards coach Jason Ryan and conditioning coach Nic Gill from the previous regime *and so there is little institutional knowledge inherent in the new team.* Shows you what the English know about sport. Isn’t just fantastic that the best rugby team, or brand, on the planet has three brothers playing together? One a bull, the other a dancer, and last a .. boxer? Looks like a boxer bless him. > But Robertson has been working to fix that issue, with senior players and coaches having been regularly meeting to work out how they will operate together both on and off the field to ensure there is strong decision-making and a deep understanding of how the team wants to play. Have they? I would suggest then it is not a case of fixing things, that is not what Razor does. Razor will evolve the relationship between player and coach into a more symbiotic relationship. This wont be a coach that shouts down at his players theyre not doing good enough. I can imagine one of the first key areas he will be implementing is the respective leadership for each coaching group. Tight five, Loosies, Halves, Centers, and Back Three, will each have their own leadership team and an agile approach to the playing group relaying what they believe is happening on the training paddock, and in games. It will be a very big step to get everyone involved, able, and thinking about contributing to that process, but I believe a very beneficial one if successful. > England may have their best chance to win in 21 years, but they may also be walking into an ambush – *about to be hit* by a young, gifted, supremely physical and athletic All Blacks team coached by a man who has made every post a winner so far in his career and has this uncanny knack of getting the best out of people. Or, by a group hurting from not getting over the line and proving to everyone they are the best in the world, full of experience and cohesion, grit and motivation. You only need to look at someone like Patrick Tuipulotu to see someone with a fire under his belly from missing out on the last RWC due to injury, and having lost to this opposition in the previous one. It will be very interesting to see how this ‘Razor’ plays it. Does he stick with the traditional and protect the time honored All Black values of commitment, or does he evolve and pick the best players to win the Rugby Championship - and by association this test series - like Akira Ioane?

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