Warren Gatland believes the quality of the players he has left out of his Wales squad shows they have the strength in depth to win the Rugby World Cup.
Gatland announced his final 31-man selection on Sunday, with Rob Evans and Samson Lee missing out while Rhys Patchell was preferred to Jarrod Evans.
The Wales coach had revealed on the eve of the squad announcement that six positions were still “up for debate” and, on Sunday, acknowledged the difficulty of the decisions he had to make.
But Gatland feels it has left Wales with a squad capable of going all the way through the tournament in Japan and building on their Six Nations Grand Slam success.
“I think it’s good enough to win [the World Cup],” he said of the group, as reported by WalesOnline.
“The most difficult thing about this squad is the depth we’ve created over the last three or four years, so we’ve left out some real quality players.
“In the past when you’ve picked a World Cup squad, you may have been happy with 24 or 25 players and the others, making up the numbers, you’re not sure about their quality.
“But this time we’ve left out some class players. I thought Owen Lane played well [in Saturday’s warm-up against Ireland] and is definitely a player for the future.
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“We’ve left out two experienced props and Bradley Davies, an experienced player, has been left out as well.
“Then you’ve got players who aren’t available – someone like Rhys Webb – so the depth of the squad and the difficult decisions we’ve made is a sign of the preparation that’s gone into the last three or four years.
“So I think we go there with a lot of belief and self-confidence.”
Gatland said of Jarrod Evans, “I’m sure his time will come sometime in the future”, while he explained the decision to look for more “durable” options than Rob Evans or Lee.
“Rob hasn’t trained a lot in the lead up to the warm-up matches,” Gatland said. “He came in with a shoulder injury, then he’s picked up a neck injury and a couple of back issues. Rob hadn’t played a lot.
“Samson has missed a few campaigns through injury, had a hamstring issue during the campaign. We looked at the durability of the props coming in.
“Someone like Rhys Carre has made incredible progress. He’s dropped 10 kgs, I thought he did well yesterday, he’s a big man. Apart from one day, where his calves were a bit tight, he hasn’t missed a training session or been in the physio room.
“All the other props are also pretty durable.”
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