There was certainly a lot to process when Warren Gatland called up a massive 54-man squad for the World Cup.

From the logistics of admissibility to omissions, there was a lot to digest. The return of Corey Hill, the absence of Joe Hawkins but not Will Rowlands: it’s no wonder the Gatland squad meeting lasted so long.

But the sheer number of new faces on the team drew attention. Some more than others.

Enough has been said about Henry Thomas to write a brief history of England in seven shirts, but the fact that Montpellier played, along with four other uncapped players, is evidence enough that Gatland is looking for a place. improve in

Starting with Thomas, the former Bath and Sale hangout is well aware of their strengths and how they approach the game in France.

“In general, in my career, I’ve always tried to keep the weight down,” he said. the rugby world last year. “So I probably gained a few pounds when I arrived, two or three months from now. And it also changes your game. It is a little heavier and can withstand a stronger impact.

“The game scheme pleased us as a team, we hit the ball a lot, we ran behind and defended well. And therefore probably even more emphasis on the landscape.

“That’s also taking on the front leg. There was definitely a big part of the season where I didn’t do as much as I’d like to, and that’s something we’ll probably look to continue next year with our attacking game in Montpellier.”

Go big, fight well and act strong where you can. This is exactly what Gatland expects from Thomas. The same applies to other new prizes.

‘Athletics and mobility’ were the buzzwords used by Gatland when discussing the improvements Wales need to their strongest five-string defence. There is a sense that the uncapped players approached by the Wales manager can deliver that and, in some cases, be good players when it comes to the Welsh scrum.

The relaxed Kemsley Mathias has been a Scarlets regular since December, coinciding with his good form. He equals South Africa’s top row in the United Rugby Championship and has recently been rewarded with a new contract after a great season.

For all the talk about Wyn Jones’s absence and how odd it is, Scarlets regulars might consider Matias the form choice for the pair.

Then there’s Corey Domachowski and Kieron Assiratti in Cardiff. Gatland spoke enthusiastically about the duo, citing their age profile and how they faced off against Sale in the Round of 16 of the Challenge Cup.

The duo caused the Premier League club no end of trouble and the clash in Cardiff may have been less dominant with current internationals Rhys Carre and Dillon Lewis taking to the pitch. From the first calls, these challenges seemed the easiest to anticipate, and Gatland’s enthusiasm probably reflected that.

Along with Thomas, another surprise was Cardiff’s tenacious Will Davies-King. The 24-year-old made his league debut this year only on New Year’s Day.

There have only been four caps for the Catalans since then and he has only played more than 40 minutes for Cardiff twice this season, but he is clearly a young player with the kind of physique Wales believes could be profitable in the future. It doesn’t hurt to show you what international camps are like, even if you probably won’t make it to Switzerland, let alone the World Cup.

On defense, Max Llewellyn was probably the easiest non-football player on the team. Cardiff’s dogged centre-back looks like he’s made of the stuff Gatland will love.

Ironically, had he not been injured during the season, the future Gloucester center could have found himself in the same boat as Joe Hawkins. Instead, as he was not in the Wales squad before his England contract was signed, he is free to choose.

Nicknamed “Skinny Bill Williams”, there’s a lot to like about Llewellyn’s game, from his sharp-angled vision to his nimble passes and volleys. There’s some intelligence to that and, having mentioned Hawkins, there’s also more uncertainty in the midfield that could help when it comes to defending a place in the final squad.

The same goes for Joe Roberts. The Scarlets center has long been considered a regular in the West Wallian midfield, but with the absence of Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies for the latter part of the season, Roberts has become an early reassuring constant.

At just 22 years old, Roberts has stood out for the Scarlets this season. That challenge from Wales may have come sooner than you expected, but it has produced consistently good results of late under Dwayne Peele.

At the moment, Wales’ 13th locker doesn’t have much stock other than George North and Mason Grady, so there’s a good chance Roberts will be in contention.

The real surprise in the defense division was Kai Evans. The Ospreys halfback wouldn’t be on many people’s radar coming into this team. Few appearances this season, although he starred in the home victory over Montpellier, French champions.

“Watching him early in the season, before he got injured, we were blown away,” said Gatland. “We know that he played a lot in the 10-year-old age group, he has a great boot, he has a good shot on goal, he is very fast, maybe not as fast as his father, but he is very smart.

“He could end up as 10 in the future, but I think 15 was a good position for him, it’s a position we have to look at in terms of depth going forward.

“He played well. Going to that front foot makes a lot of difference, especially on 10. Kai impressed us. He has a big boot, he’s quite brave and his shots on goal are good too.”

Source: Wales Online