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Injured Roberts & Cuthbert out of Wales squad

October 22, 2013

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Injured British Lions backs Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert are not in the Wales rugby squad for the four home autumn tests, while there are three new caps.

Racing Metro center Roberts is recovering from an ankle injury, while Cardiff winger Cuthbert hurt his ankle last weekend in a win over European club champion Toulon. Props Rhys Gill and Craig Mitchell were also injured and unavailable, as was former captain and hooker Matthew Rees, who will undergo testicular surgery.

James Hook, sparkling for Perpignan at fullback, was picked on Tuesday to fight for the flyhalf job with Rhys Priestland, Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell, who made his debut on the summer tour of Japan.

Hook hasn’t started a test for Wales since the 2011 World Cup, making substitute appearances at flyhalf, center, wing and fullback.

The uncapped players are Scarlets scrumhalf Rhodri Williams, Cardiff center Cory Allen and Ospreys winger Eli Walker.

Lions scrumhalf Mike Phillips was chosen, despite a meeting with Bayonne officials on Tuesday after he attended a players’ video session allegedly drunk this month. Phillips, who has a history of discipline trouble, was dropped for a game last week and faces a club suspension.

“All I can say, over the last campaigns with us he has been great,” coach Warren Gatland said on Tuesday.

“There are slight concerns about making sure this is something that does not continue to be repeated. We will just sit down and have a quiet chat about where his head’s at and what he’s doing, but there will be no sanctions for him here in this setup.”

In all, 13 of Gatland’s victorious Lions in Australia are in the 35-man Wales squad for matches against South Africa on Nov. 9, followed by Argentina, Tonga and Australia.

“All four matches will be a stern test,” Gatland said.

“The Rugby World Cup is less than two years away, so we are looking to build as much depth in our squad as possible and to give vital international experience to our players.”

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Wales: Forwards: Scott Andrews, Adam Jones, Aaron Jarvis, Paul James, Gethin Jenkins, Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Ken Owens, Emyr Phillips, Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Ian Evans, Bradley Davies, Andrew Coombs, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (captain), Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate. Backs: Rhodri Williams, Mike Phillips, Lloyd Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell, Rhys Priestland, Jon Davies, Ashley Beck, Scott Williams, Cory Allen, Owen Williams, James Hook, George North, Eli Walker, Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams.

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