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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.

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“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.”

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)

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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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