Joe Hawkins could miss Warren Gatland’s Rugby World Cup extended training squad if he fails to prove in the next six days that he has signed for Exeter Chiefs before winning his first cap.

On Monday, Gatland will announce an expanded squad for pre-World Cup training camps in Switzerland and Turkey, but Hawkins’ participation is in doubt.

The Wales manager is a big fan of the 20-year-old, who started four of the country’s five Six Nations Tests this season before giving way to Nick Tompkins against France.

At first glance, Hawkins’ decision to leave the Ospreys and join Exeter would make him ineligible to play for Wales, as he has failed to make the required 25 caps to continue representing his country.

But earlier this month, Exeter’s director of rugby, Rob Baxter, said he was confident Hawkins would be eligible to represent Wales whilst playing in Gallagher’s Premier League.

“Yes, if he is selected as a suitable Welsh player,” Baxter said when asked about Hawkins’ eligibility. “We didn’t sign him hoping he wouldn’t play for Wales if you ask me. I hope he plays for Wales.”

To represent Wales at this autumn’s World Cup, Hawkins or his representatives must prove he signed for Exeter in October before winning his first cap.

Three key sources in the Welsh game tell WalesOnline that the necessary evidence has yet to be provided, meaning the five-capped player has until Sunday night to prove exactly when he signed his contract.

The inside defender, who can also play as an outside midfielder, is a very talented footballer with the potential to become a top international player.

But Gatland has other options in midfield, with the Scarlets’ renewed Jonny Williams coming into form at just the right moment, while the Saracens’ experienced Nick Tompkins and Ospreys center Keiran Williams are also in the picture.

Cardiff duo Max Llewelyn and Mason Grady are also players who can get the job done at number 12 at Test level.

Another player whose eligibility remains in doubt is second-row Will Rowlands, who will leave the Dragons at the end of the season for French giants Racing 92.

Rowlands has 23 caps so far, but WalesOnline has been told they plan to win two more in friendlies against South Africa and England (twice) respectively to qualify for the World Cup.

Source: Wales Online