Wales World Cup squad: Durability counted against props Rob Evans and Samson Lee - Gatland

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Wales squad 'good enough' to win World Cup - Warren Gatland

Head coach Warren Gatland says props Rob Evans and Samson Lee were left out of Wales' World Cup squad because of concerns about their "durability".

Loose-head Evans was overlooked in favour of Rhys Carre, who made his debut in Saturday's loss to Ireland.

Lee, meanwhile, missed out as Wales opted for only two tight-heads in their 31-man squad for Japan.

"When we decided to go with the five props, one of the big discussions was how durable they were," said Gatland.

"Rob hasn't trained a lot in the lead-up to the World Cup matches. He came in with a shoulder injury, then he picked up a neck injury and a few back issues, so he hadn't played a lot.

"Samson has missed a few campaigns through injury, had a hamstring issue during the campaign.

"Someone like Rhys Carre has made incredible progress. He's dropped 10kgs, I thought he did well [against Ireland] and he's a big man.

"With Cory Hill not being available until the second game [because of a small leg fracture], Aaron Shingler covers us in that second-row position and we decided to go with the six loose-forwards."

Lee and Evans were two of the most notable absentees from Wales' 31-man squad announced on Sunday.

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Evans, 27, has won 36 caps and started in four of Wales' five Six Nations matches as they won the 2019 Grand Slam, while 26-year-old Lee has made 41 international appearances.

However, the Scarlets pair were not included in the World Cup squad after struggling with injuries in recent seasons, with Wales opting for three loose-head props - Carre, Nicky Smith and Wyn Jones - and only two specialist tight-heads in Tomas Francis and Dillon Lewis.

"Our original thinking was six props but we've decided to go with five," said Gatland.

"There always has to be a compromise in the squad.

"That's the one position where we're potentially a little bit light, but we've been doing some work with Wyn Jones in terms of covering that tight-head position so that we've got sufficient cover there if we do get an injury."

There were a few other marginal calls for Gatland to make when trimming his squad from 40 to 31 players, such as choosing between centres Owen Watkin and Scott Williams and outside backs Hallam Amos and Owen Lane.

Scarlets fly-half Rhys Patchell was preferred to Jarrod Evans, after each player was given 40 minutes during Saturday's 17-22 defeat by Ireland in Cardiff to earn a squad place as Dan Biggar's understudy at 10.

Rhys Patchell and Wales coach Warren Gatland
'With Rhys, the whole time he's been with us it's been about rebuilding his confidence'

"I thought Rhys came on and gave a pretty solid performance in the second half," Gatland said.

"It was tough for Jarrod in that first half and that was probably the decision on yesterday's performance.

"Jarrod is an incredibly talented young player and I'm sure his time will come sometime in the future.

"I thought Rhys controlled the game nicely when he came on, scored a good try and kicked his goals. He has had experience.

"For us, with Rhys, the whole time he's been with us it's been about rebuilding his confidence.

"He came in not being picked for the Scarlets, being on the bench and not having a lot of rugby, so we wanted to bring him along slowly, giving him the confidence and belief he can perform at this level."

Wales World Cup squad

Forwards

Props: Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Rhys Carre (Saracens), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues).

Hookers: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Ryan Elias (Scarlets).

Second-rows: Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, capt), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Cory Hill (Dragons), Jake Ball (Scarlets).

Back-rowers: Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Ross Moriarty (Dragons), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), James Davies (Scarlets).

Backs

Scrum-halves: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues), Aled Davies (Ospreys).

Fly-halves: Dan Biggar (Northampton), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets).

Centres: Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Owen Watkin (Ospreys).

Back three: Liam Williams (Saracens), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets), George North (Ospreys), Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues), Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues.

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