Six Nations: Coach Rowland Phillips remains absent from women's role

Rowland Phillips and daughter Carys who has won 51 caps for Wales
Rowland Phillips and daughter Carys who has won 51 caps for Wales

Coach Rowland Phillips remains absent from Wales women's rugby squad as they prepare for the Six Nations.

Phillips missed all five autumn matches in 2019 when the Welsh Rugby Union announced he was "taking time away."

In his continued - and unexplained - absence Chris Horsman, Geraint Lewis and Gareth Wyatt have selected a squad of 34 for the upcoming campaign.

Phillips' daughter Carys Phillips and Sioned Harries, who each have over 50 caps, are both omitted from the squad.

Siwan Lillicrap, who succeeded Carys Phillips as captain in the autumn, continues as skipper.

The squad contains one uncapped player, Ospreys prop Ruth Lewis, and 11 players who made their Wales debuts during the autumn series.

Jasmine Joyce, Hannah Jones and Alisha Butchers return to the squad along with Hannah Bluck and Lleucu George.

Horsman says the trio of coaches are in charge for this tournament only.

"It is a fantastic opportunity," said the former Wales prop.

"It is my first senior coaching role and I am dead excited about it.

"I have seen the growth in this group and they are some of the most professional players I have worked with."

Wales captain Siwan Lillicrap
Siwan Lillicrap has captained Wales in the last four games

Horsman explained Carys Phillips and Harries have been left out of the squad because Wales are looking towards the 2021 World Cup and insisted the door was not closed for either.

"It is all about 2021," said Horsman.

"It is not just myself picking the squad with Geraint. It is the whole department sitting around and saying what is the best way to drive women's rugby forward.

"We are looking to build strength in depth and competition for the group.

"We need flexibility in the group and we have to look at a wider pool of players and get an understanding of where we are.

"We have looked at the make-up of the group and where we are going. We have made a selection based on what we feel we need to look at and achieve with the objective of 2021.

"We still have another autumn campaign and Six Nations so looking at all those touch points, the selections can change varying on the objective.

"Players will more than likely leave the squad and come back in as in any national squad. We are looking at what we want in this moment of time and rewarding what we have."

Lillicrap says she has fulfilled a childhood dream.

"It's such a privilege and honour to be handed the role of Six Nations captain," said Lillicrap.

"It's literally what my childhood dreams were made of and I hope I can do the shirt, the players, my family and the coaches proud."

Former England Sevens captain Ollie Phillips has also been appointed to lead the Wales Women Sevens programme.

Forwards: Alisha Butchers, Alex Callender, Gwen Crabb, Georgia Evans, Abbie Fleming, Cerys Hale, Lleucu George, Cara Hope, Natalia John, Manon Johnes, Kelsey Jones, Molly Kelly, Sarah Lawrence, Bethan Lewis, Ruth Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap, Robyn Lock, Gwenllian Pyrs

Backs: Keira Bevan, Hannah Bluck, Hannah Jones, Jasmine Joyce, Courtney Keight, Kerin Lake, Caitlin Lewis, Ffion Lewis, Lisa Neumann, Kayleigh Powell, Paige Randall, Lauren Smyth, Elinor Snowsill, Niamh Terry, Megan Webb, Robyn Wilkins

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