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Wales Rugby: Liam Williams and Cory Hill shocked by Wales’ summer recall

Image source, Huw Evans Photo Agency

Image description, Liam Williams and Corry Hill have played more than 120 international matches between them

Liam Williams and Cory Hill were surprisingly recalled by Wales for their summer tests.

The veterans are plying their trade in Japan, with Hill benefiting from the crisis in the Welsh second row three years after his last international appearance.

Warren Gatland has also selected Gloucester winger and full-back Josh Hathaway among four uncapped players for the games against South Africa and Australia.

Ospreys winger Keelan Giles and Cardiff duo Jacob Beetham and Ellis Bevan are the other uncapped players in the 36-man training squad.

Gatland's side will face the Springboks at Twickenham on June 22 as several players living outside Wales are unavailable for a match outside the official Test window.

The squad will then be reduced to 34 players before embarking on a two-Test tour of Australia in July.

Will Rowlands, Josh Adams, Alex Mann and Ryan Elias will be rested over the summer.

However, the Six Nations squad is noticeably missing winger Ioan Lloyd as well as wingers Taine Basham and James Botham.

And there is still no room for people like Morgan Morris, Eddie James, Nicky Smith or Johnny Williams, who have all shown good club form.

Sam Costelow is the only number 10 specialist to feature. Returning Cardiff centre Ben Thomas acts as a replacement, while Dragons lock Matthew Screech has also been recalled.

World Cup co-captains Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake return after missing the Six Nations through injury and Gatland has not yet announced his captain for the summer.

Liam Williams returns

But the loss of several experienced players such as George North, Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit highlighted the need for an experienced player.

Likewise, support player Henry Thomas, who moved to the Scarlets, was recalled.

Thomas moved from Montpellier to Castres after the World Cup and was another who did not take part in the Six Nations.

He is now one of five tight head props alongside Keiron Assiratti, Henry O'Connor, Dillon Lewis and Archie Griffin, although only four of them are likely to tour Australia.

Headaches due to blockage

Hill benefited from the huge shortage of available players in the second row for Wales.

Adam Beard, Rhys Davies and Teddy Williams are all injured, while Will Rowlands is given a rest.

Hill, a two-time Six Nations winner, withdrew from the World Cup training squad last year to take up a club contract with fourth-division side Secom Rugguts in Japan.

Screech, 31, who already plays once for the Dragons, has only made one previous appearance as a substitute at Test level, against Argentina in 2021.

The Wales Summer Games

  • 22 June – South Africa (Twickenham)
  • July 6 – Australia (Sydney)
  • July 13 – Australia (Melbourne)
  • 19 July – Queensland Reds (Brisbane)

The new guys

Image source, Huw Evans Photo Agency

Image description, Josh Hathaway scored a goal for England's U20 national team against Wales in 2023

Wales acted quickly and brought back Josh Hathaway – possibly due to the lack of transfer of Immanuel Feyi-Waboso to England.

The versatile Gloucester defender, who grew up in Aberystwyth and joined the Scarlets Academy, has represented Wales and England at Under-20 level.

But his move to Hartpury College led to a contract with Gloucester and he enjoyed a breakthrough in his final season, benefitting from the departure of his teammate Rees-Zammit to the NFL.

Gatland confirmed that Cardiff winger Theo Cabango would have been selected had he not sustained a thigh injury in the final game of the season on Saturday.

Cardiff scrum-half Bevan joins Gareth Davies and Kieran Hardy after his clubmate Tomos Williams was ruled out through injury.

Building until 2027 – Gatland

Gatland has chosen the new faces at the start of a new World Cup cycle – partly out of necessity.

“Everyone appreciates that we are working towards 2027. There were moments during the Six Nations when we played really good rugby and put the opposition teams under pressure, but we probably weren't precise enough,” he said.

“We need to keep working hard to build on that. We have experience to bring back to the team and some exciting players, which is good.”

“The focus is on improving our game management. But we also want to improve our collision dominance, whether in attack or defense, and create more depth and competition within the squad.”

Wales summer squad

Forward: Corey Domachowski (Cardiff), Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), Gareth Thomas (Ospreys), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Dewi Lake (Ospreys), Evan Lloyd (Cardiff), Sam Parry (Ospreys), Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff), Archie Griffin (Bath), Dillon Lewis (Harlequins), Harri O'Connor (Scarlets), Henry Thomas (Castres Olympique), Ben Carter (Dragons), Cory Hill (Secom Rugguts), Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs), Matthew Screech (Dragons), Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs), Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff), Jac Morgan (Ospreys), Taine Plumtree (Scarlets), Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons).

Back: Ellis Bevan (Cardiff), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Sam Costelow (Scarlets), Mason Grady (Cardiff), Ben Thomas (Cardiff), Nick Tompkins (Saracens), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Rio Dyer (Dragons), Keelan Giles (Ospreys), Josh Hathaway (Gloucester), Liam Williams (Kubota Spears), Jacob Beetham (Cardiff), Cameron Winnett (Cardiff).