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Warren Gatland names experienced World Cup training squad... and George North says he's fit

And it begins.

Wales are in the tournament's so-called group of death.
Wales are in the tournament's so-called group of death.
Image: David Davies

WALES COACH Warren Gatland named a 47-man World Cup training squad on Monday, with 17 of the players chosen having previous experience of international rugby union’s showpiece tournament.

Four years ago, Wales reached the semi-finals of the World Cup only for skipper Sam Warburton, still their captain, to be sent off in an agonising loss to France.

The back-row forward is again set to lead his country at this year’s World Cup in England, which starts in September.

Wales have been drawn in a tough pool also featuring England, Australia and Fiji — the so-called ‘group of death’ — with at least one of rugby’s major nations set to be knocked out in the first round as only two teams from each pool will qualify for the quarter-finals.

Prop forward Gethin Jenkins will be aiming to appear in a fourth World Cup, while Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau were all members of Wales’ back-row in 2011.

But the squad also features nine uncapped players in Gloucester back-row Ross Moriarty, Bath lock Dominic Day and Exeter prop Tomas Francis, as well as Newport Gwent Dragons backs Tyler Morgan and Jack Dixon.

The squad will report for conditioning training on 15 June ahead of training camps in Switzerland and Qatar.

Gatland, in common with all World Cup coaches, must name his final 31-man squad by the August 31 deadline.

“As a coaching team we are extremely happy with the blend of the squad in terms of the experience we are able to include as well as the young talent that has really impressed us,” said Gatland.

“The easy part for the players has been done in terms of being selected, the hard work will begin from day one with a huge schedule of preparation ahead of them,” added the New Zealander.

“The players will face a tough couple of months of intensive training, we will be taking them to Switzerland, Qatar and Poland and I can assure everyone they are no holiday camps.”

“We put a lot of emphasis on conditioning and preparation in 2011 which worked well for us and we are looking to step that up again this time,” Gatland said.

“We believe the longer we are together the better we perform and this summer of preparation will give us every opportunity to be at our best come Rugby World Cup.”

Rugby Union - RBS Six Nations - France v Wales - Wales Media Activity - Vale Hotel Wales' George North talks to the written press at the Vale Hotel, Hensol. Source: Joe Giddens via FILE PIC

Wing George North said Monday he was “fit and well” ahead of the World Cup despite a lengthy injury absence due to concussion.

The 23-year-old powerhouse wing has not played since being concusssed when appearing for English Premiership side Northampton against Wasps on 27 March.

North was stood down on medical advice after the accidental knockout blow to the head he received from Wasps’ Nathan Hughes during Northampton’s 52-30 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.

“I’m okay thanks; it’s been a bit of a long road,” said North, speaking at a Twickenham event. ”I’m feeling fit and well now, and looking forward to what’s ahead.”

North missed Northampton’s Premiership semi-final defeat by eventual champions Saracens, despite being in line fot a return.

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder accused Wales coach Warren Gatland of playing “mind games” after the New Zealander warned one more concussion could threaten British and Irish Lions wing North’s professional career.

Wales squad

Backs (22)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro/FRA), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), James Hook (Gloucester/ENG), Matthew Morgan (Bristol/ENG), Rhys Patchell (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Jack Dixon (Newport Gwent Dragons), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro/FRA), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Tom James (Exeter/ENG), George North (Northampton/ENG), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

Forwards (25)

Rob Evans (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter/ENG), Paul James (Bath/ENG), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester/ENG), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro/FRA), Dominic Day (Bath/ENG), Bradley Davies (Wasps/ENG), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Dan Baker (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester/ENG), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt).

 -AFP 2015

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