Rob Howley’s Wales squad for the autumn internationals has been boosted by the return of three British & Irish Lions in Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and Dan Lydiate.
The trio all missed out on Wales’ summer Tour to New Zealand through injury but have proven their fitness at the start of the new season to be included.
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Howley has named a 36-man squad for their autumn international clashes with Australia, Argentina, Japan and South Africa that also includes two previously uncapped players.
Ospreys duo Sam Davies, who is one of three fly-halves, and lock Rory Thornton have both been given the nod as reward for the Welsh region’s fine start to the season.
Elsewhere 2013 Lion Taulupe Faletau is included despite the No 8 still rehabbing a knee injury that will rule him out of the start of the autumn series.
Sam Warburton skippers the squad as he continues his recovery from cheek surgery but fellow Lions Alun Wyn Jones and Gethin Jenkins will bring plenty of leadership to the group.
And the backline is packed full of star quality with the recalled Halfpenny and Cuthbert joining George North, Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts in a strong squad looking to impress Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland ahead of the 2017 Lions Tour to New Zealand.
And Howley is excited about blending the old with the new throughout the autumn’s four clashes.
“It is great to give the opportunity to players who are playing well for their clubs with the likes of Nicky Smith, Rhys Gill, Rory Thornton and Sam Davies coming into the squad. In addition it’s great to be able to welcome back experienced players such as Dan Lydiate, Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny, who have missed out recently with injury and that experience will be important this autumn.
Rob Howley talks to WRUTV about the squad he has just named for the forthcoming Under Armour Series. Full video here https://t.co/mkkBAFSHWM pic.twitter.com/fjkaLW5mbE
— Welsh Rugby Union ? (@WelshRugbyUnion) October 18, 2016
“Taulupe is still in his rehab process and has been working closely with Bath. We hope he will be available in the later part of the campaign, but his experience will be vitally important to have around the squad.
“We know we have to start the campaign strong and have to replicate the accuracy and intensity our opponents will bring to Cardiff. We need to build on what we did in New Zealand and take it up another level for that opening match against Australia.”
Wales squad for autumn internationals:
Forwards: Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Rhys Gill (Cardiff Blues), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Bath Rugby), Bradley Davies (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Dan Baker (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby), James King (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (capt, Cardiff Blues).
Backs: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets).