Cardiff Blues players await Wales training squad announcement

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Warren Gatland will name a Wales training squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup on Tuesday lunchtime, as eyes begin to fully turn to the tournament being held in Japan in September.

It is expected to be another squad in the late 40s, similar to the 45 and 47-men squads named in 2011 and 2015, respectively, with the selected players going through training camps and pre-World Cup warm-up games before being cut down to 31-men for the tournament itself.

Although it hasn’t been an ideal end to the season for Cardiff Blues, there are still players putting their hand up for selection, so I’ve had a look at who might be getting a call-up on Tuesday.

Front row

Starting up front and while Nicky Smith, Rob Evans and Wyn Jones have the loosehead pretty much nailed down, there is an outside chance of Rhys Carre being named as a bolter in the training squad.

The 21-year-old has 13 appearances to his name this season and has been a regular in the matchday squad in the second half of the campaign, impressing with his ball carrying and jackal skills.

As he joins Saracens this summer it might be the perfect time to get him capped and tied to Wales, even if his new club might not be keen on him becoming a designated non-English player.

Rhys Carre Uruguay
Rhys Carre could well be a bolter in the training squad

Another potential selection is Kris Dacey, although the 29-year-old hasn’t pulled on the red jersey since December 2017, but has training camp experience having been involved before the 2015 World Cup and was one of the geographical players called up to the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Unlikely to make the final squad with Ken Owens, Ryan Elias and Elliott Dee ahead of him, but with Scott Baldwin moving to Harlequins and becoming ineligible this summer a spot in the training squad is a possibility if Gatland selects four hookers.

One more certain selection is Dillon Lewis though who has become a regular in recent Wales squads, making the last three and playing in four out of five games as we won the Grand Slam this season.

A big training camp could see Dillon right in contention for a place on the plane to Japan, especially if Gatland takes three tighthead props. If it’s only two he needs to get in ahead of Tomas Francis or Samson Lee.

Dillon Lewis Wales
Dillon Lewis has been a regular in the Wales squad for the past year

Lock/Back row

I have put the back five of the scrum together as if we are to get any Cardiff Blues players in the engine room involved in the final squad, it will most likely be due to their versatility in covering numerous positions.

Both Seb Davies and Josh Turnbull are capable of covering lock, blindside flanker and number eight, and when each nation is only permitted a squad of 31-men to take to Japan, that ability to play multiple positions is key.

The likelihood is that they will be involved in the training squad, going up against the likes of James King and Aaron Shingler for that spot as a utility forward, while Josh Navidi will also be involved as one of the standout back row players for Wales over the last two years.

Of course Ellis Jenkins is still recovering from the anterior cruciate ligament tear suffered against South Africa in the Autumn Internationals, and while it is still hoped he will be fit in time for the tournament, he may be left out of the training squad to give those who are currently fit a chance to be actively be involved.

Josh Navidi England 2
Josh Navidi has been a Wales regular since bursting onto the international scene

Half-back

There is an outside chance that we could see four current Cardiff Blues players picked in the always well-debated area of the half-back, potentially forming two all-Cardiff Blues combinations.

Tomos Williams is pretty much assured of his spot having been heavily involved in Gatland’s team over the last year, and will battle it out with Aled Davies and Gareth Davies for the nine jersey.

There could a fourth scrum-half selected though, with Kieran Hardy of the Scarlets, Rhodri Williams of the Dragons and our own Lloyd Williams the names being put into that hat.

Outside them the Ospreys-bound Gareth Anscombe will be claimed as a Cardiff Blues player by me throughout this World Cup period in the hope we get the financial bonus for his selection.

Once again Gatland may opt for four fly-halves in his training squad, with Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell pretty much nailed on to join Anscombe, before Jarrod Evans could be that fourth option.

Tomos Williams France
Tomos Williams could let up the World Cup given a chance

Centre

Unfortunately there will be no midfield representation in Gatland’s training squad, as Garyn Smith has not had enough game time to press his case for inclusion, while Harri Millard is some way off international level.

There could be a spot for an ex-Cardiff Blues player though, with Jamie Roberts pushing for a return to the international fold for the first time since November 2017.

Back three

There is one name on everyone’s lips here, and that is Owen Lane.

The 21-year-old was unlucky to pick up an injury ahead of last summer’s tour to the US and Argentina that ruled him out of contention, and hobbled off against the Ospreys at Judgement Day but will hopefully recover in time to take his place in the squad after not being selected for the Autumn Internationals or Six Nations.

If he does make it he will likely alongside future team-mates Hallam Amos and Josh Adams, and while a place on the plane to Japan is only an outside possibility, a regular spot post-World Cup is definitely on the cards.

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