Who's in, who's now definitely out and the wildcard picks for Wales' summer tour

Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd

Over the next couple of weeks Warren Gatland and his coaches will be busy running the rule over players as they look to put a squad together for summer Test matches against South Africa at Twickenham and Australia Down Under.

Wales may have picked up the dreaded Wooden Spoon at the end of a bitterly disappointing Six Nations campaign but Gatland is expected to continue putting his faith in youth. As usual a few players have been ruled out through injury while others who were absent during the Six Nations are now fit and raring to go.

Rugby correspondent Steffan Thomas runs the rule over the likely candidates to tour this summer, those who have been ruled out and any potential wildcards who could come into the equation.

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Only Gatland knows for sure who he will select but there are a core group of players who are almost certain to figure this summer. The Wales management may look to rest certain players who have played non-stop since last summer's pre-World Cup training camps, while there are some who have been carrying injuries.

But you'd expect Gatland's World Cup co-captains Dewi Lake and Jac Morgan to walk back into the matchday 23, while the likes of Gareth Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins, Will Rowlands, Aaron Wainwright and Tommy Reffell are almost nailed-on selections. Ryan Elias and Elliot Dee will almost certainly go, while Gareth Davies, Sam Costelow, Rio Dyer and Cameron Winnett are also likely picks.

One thing which needs to be considered is the fact Wales' first summer Test match against South Africa falls outside of World Rugby's designated international window. As a result of this every plays who plies his trade outside of Wales is unavailable for selection, meaning Gatland is going to be short of locks considering Adam Beard is injured while Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza and Will Rowlands are all based outside of Wales.

Teddy Williams is almost nailed on for selection as a result, while it also makes young Dragons lock Ben Carter a likely selection.

Certainties: Gareth Thomas, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Dewi Lake, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Keiron Assiratti, Dafydd Jenkins, Will Rowlands, Teddy Williams, Jac Morgan, Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright, Mackenzie Martin, Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Sam Costelow, Ioan Lloyd, Mason Grady, Josh Adams, Rio Dyer, Cam Winnett, Christ Tshiunza

Touch and go

There are a few borderline selection calls which could go either way. For example, Nicky Smith has been scrummaging the house down for the Ospreys but he has never had a run of games for Wales.

Perhaps the Wales management will think it more useful to use this summer to speed up Kemsley Mathias' development instead. It'll be interesting to see if Dragons tighthead Leon Brown makes the squad given his injury record, while highly-rated Bath prop Archie Griffin and Scarlets man Harri O'Connor are also contenders having both won their first caps during the Six Nations.

Alex Mann made a more than credible start to his international career during the Six Nations but competition there is more competition for a back-row spot this time out given both Tshiunza and Taine Plumtree have returned from injury. Another interesting one is James Botham who was included in Gatland's Six Nations squad before picking up an injury.

Botham has been excellent for Cardiff of late and is the sort of athlete who could thrive in the international environment but with Jac Morgan back fit he is far from a certain selection. It'll also be fascinating to see whether Gatland gives Ospreys centre Keiran Williams and Scarlets man Johnny Williams a chance.

One man who has made himself available for this summer tour is Liam Williams. The full-back is currently playing for Kubota Spears in Japan and Gatland needs to decide whether he needs Williams' experience or if he is better served by sticking with youth.

Touch and go but in contention: Liam Williams, Evan Lloyd, Ben Carter, Johnny Williams, Keiran Williams, Nicky Smith, Kemsley Mathias, James Botham, Taine Plumtree, Alex Mann, Tomos Williams, Owen Watkin, Seb Davies, Henry Thomas


While winning is very much on Gatland's agenda he will continue building a squad for the next World Cup in Australia and in order to do that he needs to persevere with youth. One player who we know is on the agenda is Jacob Beetham because the Cardiff utility back was called in to train with Wales during the Six Nations.

Beetham, who is also a target for Scotland, ticks a lot of boxes given he can play in the back three while also at outside-half and inside centre. Scarlets centre Eddie James has been a bright spark in a dire season out west and is historically the type of player Gatland likes in midfield in the sense he is a big man who can easily get over the gainline.

When the squad is named the first name most Welsh fans will look for is Josh Hathaway. The 20-year-old speedster has been in blistering form for Gloucester and given he also qualifies for England, Wales fans will be desperate for Gatland to cap him.

It'll be interesting to see what Gatland does at outside-half and whether there is a recall for the Cardiff- bound Callum Sheedy or even if he gives Dan Edwards an opportunity. Ospreys boss Toby Booth has revealed the Wales coaches have been enquiring about Reuben Morgan-Williams who could fill the third scrum-half slot if Tomos Williams is ruled out or maybe Gatland will select on potential and plump for Archie Hughes.

One thing Wales are in desperate need of is a big destructive blindside flanker so would it be that outrageous if Gatland took former Wales U20s captain Ryan Woodman on tour to take a close look at him? Stranger things have happened, while it is also a matter of when not if Morgan Morse wins a cap.

Bath centre Louie Hennessey isn't out of the question, while given Wales' sparse resources at second-row for the Springboks clash highly-rated Ospreys lock James Fender has to be considered.

Wildcards: Eddie James, Jacob Beetham, Theo Cabango, Dan Edwards, Callum Sheedy, Reuben Morgan-Williams, Archie Hughes, Morgan Morse, Ryan Woodman, Josh Hathaway, Louie Hennessey, James Fender

Who is definitely out?

Experienced outside-half Gareth Anscombe ruled himself out of Wales' summer internationals this week having not played any rugby since suffering a serious groin injury at the Rugby World Cup. Anscombe will join Gloucester next season and hopes to figure for Wales again in the future but Wales' upcoming summer Test matches have come too soon for him.

Wales will definitely be without Taulupe Faletau who fractured his should playing for Cardiff out in Ulster which was his first game back since recovering from a broken arm. The experienced Adam Beard will also be missing this summer after sustaining an ankle injury while Scarlets centre Joe Roberts faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a serious knee injury.

Out of contention: Joe Roberts, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Anscombe, Adam Beard