Wales cuts Phillips, Hook Hibbard from Rugby World Cup squad
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales cut veterans Mike Phillips, James Hook and Richard Hibbard from its Rugby World Cup training squad on Thursday.
The trio — members of the British and Irish Lions squad which beat Australia in 2013 — were among eight players dropped by Wales head coach Warren Gatland. They have 209 Wales caps between them.
Flyhalf Hook and scrumhalf Phillips delivered ineffective displays in Wales’ World Cup warm-up game against Ireland on Saturday and were replaced early in the second half of a 35-21 loss at the Millennium Stadium.
The departure of Hibbard is considered a surprise, with fellow hookers Scott Baldwin, Ken Owens and Kristian Dacey retained.
Jack Dixon, Rhys Patchell, Nicky Smith, Rory Thornton and Dan Baker were also released back to their club sides. A 38-man group will now continue preparations for Wales’ Rugby World Cup opener against Uruguay in Cardiff on Sept. 20.
“It’s been a difficult task reducing the squad down and deciding who will meet up with us again on Monday,” Gatland said.
“There will be disappointment from the players but it’s important to stress that the door is not closed. We name our final Rugby World Cup squad on August 31 and a lot can happen between now and then.”