Dan Biggar is confident he is 100 per cent ready to return to action in Wales' Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with France, according to Warren Gatland.

Biggar missed Wales' final Pool D match against Uruguay with concussion after suffering head knocks in consecutive matches against Australia and Fiji.

However, the Northampton Saints fly-half has been passed fit to start against France in Oita on Sunday.

It is a decision Gatland insisted has not taken lightly, but the Wales coach affirmed Biggar has no doubts over his fitness.

"We went through, made sure in terms of consulting the right people and making sure that they were aware of everything, getting him scanned, the independent consultant - that was important," said Gatland in a news conference.

"Dan's been fit for three or four days in terms of having passed those [concussion protocols], so we are taking all the proper precautions.

"But he's very confident that he's 100 per cent."

Gatland did, however, concede extra caution will have to be taken with Biggar should he sustain another head injury.

"He's desperate to play," Gatland added.

"We've just got to make sure if it does happen, if he gets a knock in the next few games, the next couple of months, obviously there would probably be a different course of action."

Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones has also been selected and will join Brian O'Driscoll in third on the all-time list for international Test appearances with his 141st cap.

"It's one chance to stay or you know where you are going," he said of Wales' ambitions for Sunday's clash.

"It's funny because the planning for this has probably been in Warren's head for the last 10 years rather than the last four years, two years, or 18 months.

"He is constantly building and what we have achieved or have not comes down to this moment."

Warren Gatland is happy for Wales to fly under the radar at the Rugby World Cup, even if they are strong favourites to see off France and reach the semi-finals.

Australia coach Michael Cheika labelled the reigning Six Nations champions as favourites ahead of the Wallabies' clash with Gatland's side in Pool D.

Wales edged out Australia 29-25 on their way to finishing top of the group with a perfect record, yet Gatland believes other teams still left standing in the tournament are getting "a lot more talk" in the media.

Still, they will be strongly fancied to see off France in an all-European quarter-final tie, having come from 16-0 down to beat them 24-19 in Paris in their opening Six Nations match.

"If you take out the World Cup warm-up games, we have won 18 competitive games in a row, we are Grand Slam champions and we know, as we go on in tournaments, we get stronger and more confident and more cohesive as a unit," Gatland said.

"We are building nicely, going under the radar. There is still a lot more talk about other teams and games and that suits us. We've had a great record against France - we've won seven of the last eight games.

"There was an edge to this week and the players have been incredibly professional in the way they've prepared.

"The message to the players is you've got two choices – we are either on the plane on Monday going home or we are here until the end of the tournament."

Maxime Medard acknowledged France must rise to the challenge on Sunday, or else Wales will dominate them at Oita Stadium.

"If we don't raise our level, the Welsh are going to ride all over us," the full-back told the media. "The Welsh have to be favourites. The team has been one of the best in the world for several years.

"You have to keep in mind that the difference between the big teams and the rest is that, in games where you're in trouble, where it turns into an arm wrestle, the big teams don't give in. Wales are a very big team."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales – Josh Adams

Dan Biggar's availability is a boost to Wales, the fly-half fit to feature following a blow to the head against Fiji, but it is Josh Adams who seems most likely to grab the headlines.

Adams has scored five tries already and the Cardiff Blues wing will be eager to propel Wales into the last four.

France – Guilhem Guirado

Having been left out of France's past two matches following a reported bust-up with coach Jacques Brunel, hooker Guilhem Guirado will return to lead Les Bleus as captain.

If ever there was an opportunity to show his worth, then this will surely be it for the 33-year-old.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- France beat Wales 9-8 in the only previous World Cup meeting between the sides - the 2011 semi-final. Wales captain Sam Warburton was sent off after 18 minutes of the contest.

- Wales won all of their pool stage matches for the first time since 1987. This four-game winning streak is their joint longest at the World Cup and they have never won five in a row in the competition.

- Since the start of 2018, France have lost six Test matches in which they have been leading at half-time.

- Alun Wyn Jones is in line to play a record 19th World Cup match for Wales, surpassing Gethin Jenkins' tally of 18 appearances.

Warren Gatland is an "incredible person" and Wales will do all they can to ensure the Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with France is not his last match in charge, says assistant and skills specialist Neil Jenkins.

The popular New Zealander is to leave his role as head coach after the tournament in Japan following a hugely successful 12-year stint.

Gatland will hope to stay in Japan for a while longer yet, with Wales looking to better the semi-final and quarter-final appearances they achieved in 2011 and 2015 respectively.

Jenkins has paid tribute to Gatland's qualities not only as a coach but away from the training field as well.

"His record speaks for itself as in the results, the success, the togetherness of the team and the squad and the staff," Jenkins said.

"Gats is not just an incredible rugby coach, he is an incredible person as well. He brings so much to this environment, it's unbelievable, really.

"It would be incredibly sad to see him go, obviously. It would be nice if we could give ourselves another fortnight in Japan for him and for everyone involved.

"Gats is the same, no matter who we are playing, week to week. It is probably us he has to calm down and the rest of the coaches.

"He is an incredibly smart rugby man and knows the game inside out, and we will be prepared for Sunday.

"He's been here for 12 years, and whatever he does, everyone looks up to him and understands why he does it.

"He's a very smart operator, he does things for a reason and there is always a plan behind things."

Jenkins also spoke of the difficulty the coaching team have had in curbing the enthusiasm of fly-half Dan Biggar, who sustained separate injuries in pool-stage matches against Australia and Fiji.

Biggar is expected to face Les Bleus in Oita on Sunday and Jenkins says the number 10 is chomping at the bit for the last-eight clash.

"Curbing him is very difficult," Jenkins added. "He's a competitor, full-stop. He's a winner. He's a very physical rugby player, he gets stuck in.

"He's done everything that's been asked of him constantly and consistently and he's ready to go. He's desperate to play. He's world-class and he'll be ready to go again, there's no doubting that."

Gareth Davies admitted Wales' players are desperate to ensure Warren Gatland's run as coach does not end with a Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to France on Sunday.

Gatland has already confirmed he will step down after the tournament in Japan, ending a successful 12-year stint at the helm, during which time he has won four Six Nations titles and led Wales to the World Cup semi-finals in 2011.

Les Bleus stand between Wales and another last-four contest, with scrum-half Davies revealing the team are keen to avoid giving Gatland a flat farewell with a loss to France.

"We all knew it was going to be Gats' last tournament in charge of us and we do speak about it every now and again," he told reporters at a news conference.

"Especially this week now, it could be our last game. Hopefully it won't be.

"Alun Wyn [Jones] is a great captain, he speaks really well, and I'm sure he'll mention the fact that it could be Gats' last game.

"As players, we'll bear that in the back of our minds. Hopefully that will give us a couple of extra percentage to come away with a good victory."

Wales were boosted by Dan Biggar (head), Jonathan Davies (knee) and George North (ankle) all training on Tuesday, the trio having missed the win over Uruguay.

They will go into the France game as favourites having won seven of the eight matches the two have played since 2011, when Les Bleus claimed a narrow 9-8 success in the World Cup semi-finals.

However, having fallen 16-0 behind before rallying to win 24-19 in their last encounter at this year's Six Nations, attack coach Stephen Jones is keen for Wales to avoid another sloppy start.

"It is important we learn the lessons from that match," he said.

"The positives are we stayed in the fight and got back and won that game.

"We've definitely taken some lessons on board from that first half. France have a great pool of players to choose from, they are great athletes, and very unpredictable. They enjoy the broken field.

"If we are loose and turn ball over easily then they will be in their element and very, very dangerous."

Warren Gatland is hoping Wales' qualification-clinching victory over Fiji did not come at a cost after hat-trick hero Josh Adams, Dan Biggar and Jonathan Davies all picked up injuries.

Gatland's side fought back from a two-try deficit early on as Adams became the sixth man from his country to score a Rugby World Cup hat-trick before Liam Williams sealed a bonus point with a fourth try in a 29-17 triumph.

Wales are now firmly on course to top Pool D and Gatland is likely to make changes for the final group game against Uruguay on Sunday, but he will be concerned about the availability of his key backs beyond that.

Adams came off 10 minutes from time with a dead leg, Davies suffered a bang to his knee in teeing up the wing for his third try and Biggar was withdrawn after taking a blow to the head from team-mate Williams as he claimed a high ball.

Biggar failed a head injury assessment (HIA) in Wales' previous match against Australia, but Gatland told reporters on Wednesday: "It was a removal from the field, he didn't do a HIA [this time].

"It was just because of the contact, he was just removed.

"He's not in consideration for Sunday, then he'll have to go through the protocols and we'll probably have someone take a look at him as well."

Gatland was more upbeat about Adams and Davies, adding: "No fears. Josh just took a dead leg basically and Jonathan, just with his knee, the same sort of thing.

"You never know with knees, we'll probably get him assessed tomorrow when all the players have a review of today."

Wales' players will not enjoy reviewing the first eight minutes of the game, when Josua Tuisova and Kini Murimurivalu both went in down Adams' flank.

But Wales responded in a wild contest that featured five disallowed tries and four yellow cards - two for each team - the joint-most shown in a World Cup match.

"From 10-0 down, to finish with a bonus-point win... I thought that showed some great character," Gatland added.

Fiji, who were eliminated with the loss as Australia joined Wales in the last eight, were behind at the interval but went back ahead with a penalty try, yet they were left to rue their final ball as they had three would-be scores chalked off for forward passes.

"A game like that, it's a game of inches," Fiji coach John McKee said.

"You look at two or three opportunities with forward passes. It costs you big when the game's so close."

After losing to Australia and then being stunned by Uruguay in their next game, McKee was at least content to see Fiji bow out with a decent display.

"[It is] pleasing for me that finally we've had an opportunity on the world stage to show what this team is capable of," he added.

Warren Gatland realises the importance of Wales following up an impressive victory against Australia by performing well in their remaining Pool D matches.

Wales took control of their Rugby World Cup group by clinging on against the Wallabies and earning a hard-fought 29-25 win.

Gatland's side are expected to challenge for a first title at this tournament, yet the coach is first focused on ensuring they do not "take anyone lightly" prior to the knockout stages.

Wales face Fiji and then Uruguay in a pair of fixtures they will be expected to win.

"It was a tough game [against Australia] and a victory. It's confidence boosting hopefully for the next couple of games," he told a news conference. "We think they're going to be tough.

"Fiji will be hurting and we saw how well they played against Australia in the first half of that first game. We can't take anyone lightly in this group.

"It's important for us that we make sure we prepare in the best way that we possibly can and that we don't take any team or any performance for granted.

"We have to be as clinical as we possibly can be because that's what good teams do. They make sure that they are clinical and they are accurate.

"If we are to be considered a good team, we have got to play well in these next two matches."

Wales were waiting to see how Dan Biggar recovered after a failed head injury assessment, but Gatland was optimistic Liam Williams would be fit after rolling his ankle.

"We'll need to make sure we recover," Gatland said. "We've got nine or 10 days until our next match.

"We'll use that in the best way we possibly can to freshen up the guys and make sure we take a little time. It's nice getting a decent break before our next match against Fiji."

Meanwhile, opposite number Michael Cheika was not receptive to discussing Wales' chances when he was asked for an assessment at his own spiky news conference.

"I don't think that's really for me to talk about, is it? We've played our game against them and move onto the next game," he said.

"They won, now move onto the next game. It's not my place to talk about who's going to win and who's not."

Warren Gatland was delighted to see Wales edge past Australia in a bruising Rugby World Cup encounter he acknowledged they might well have lost previously.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions raced out to a 23-8 half-time lead before Australia built momentum in the second period and set up a nervy finish with tries from Dane Haylett-Petty and Michael Hooper.

But Wales clung on to take a 29-25 victory and seize control of Pool D, potentially avoiding England and New Zealand in the quarter-finals and semis.

Gatland saw this as the type of clash Wales would have come up short in prior to the last 12 months in which they have forged a steely reputation, also beating Australia in a Test last November.

"It was pretty special," he told ITV Sport. "It was a good first half and we hung on in the second half.

"Australia came at us and the boys are pretty sore and battered in the changing rooms. It was a really tough physical game - and those are the ones in the past that we've been losing.

"It was nice to hold on at the end and I thought our bench were fantastic and gave us some real momentum and fresh legs when we needed them."

He added: "We're really pleased to get that win - it takes a little of the pressure off us. Now we're kind of in control of our own destiny in terms of what happens."

Alun Wyn Jones, making a record 130th appearance, praised Wales' character but was slightly concerned by another "tentative" second half.

Wales had similarly built a big lead against Georgia before slowing after the break, their 29-point half-time advantage failing to increase as they won 43-14.

"I'm pretty happy with the character we showed - particularly in the second half," Jones said.

"At times, it did feel a bit like the Georgia game, where we had a great first half and were a bit tentative in the second half. We'll have a look at that, but I'm pleased with the result."

Cory Hill has been ruled out of the rest of the Rugby World Cup after he failed to overcome a stress fracture of his fibula, Wales have announced.

Wales had just two fit locks available for their opening Pool D win over Georgia on Monday, as Warren Gatland gave Hill every chance to recover from an injury which has kept him out since February.

However, Gatland told reporters following the 43-14 victory in Toyota City that it was a possibility Hill would return to the UK, and that has now been confirmed.

A statement from the Welsh Rugby Union said Hill had been "unable to recover significantly" from his injury.

The 27-year-old has been replaced in Wales' squad by Bradley Davies.

Ospreys forward Davies, who has 65 caps and appeared at two previous World Cups, is due to arrive in Japan in Wednesday ahead of the meeting with fellow heavyweights Australia.

Gatland also has an injury concern over centre Hadleigh Parkes, who sustained a "bone fracture" in his hand in the clash with Georgia.

In better news for Wales, fly-half Dan Biggar insisted he was fine despite wearing strapping on his left arm throughout the match.

Wales can take plenty of confidence from their dominant victory over Georgia heading into a clash with fellow Rugby World Cup heavyweights Australia, according to coach Warren Gatland.

Six Nations winners Wales put in a superb first-half display in Toyota City in their opening Pool D encounter, securing a 29-0 lead and a bonus point before the interval.

Gareth Davies was in supreme form at scrum-half, with Jonathan Davies, Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams scoring four of Wales' six tries in the first half.

Gatland's side eased off after the interval, though George North expertly teed up one try before scoring another to complete a 43-14 rout.

Though Gatland acknowledged Wales still had areas to improve on, he has no doubt the victory has put his team in a good place for Sunday's meeting with the Wallabies.

"I think we can take a lot of confidence from that, they're a tough side," Gatland, whose side now top Pool D, said in a news conference.

"We've had some really tight games with them over the year. We tend to get better as tournaments go on.

"We're pleased with the start and there is a lot of room for us to improve for next week. I don't think we tried to hide any moves in the second half.

"We spoke about being smart. In the second half, the ball got slippery. Georgia allowed us a lot of opportunities to get into their half and take chances.

"We have a few things up our sleeve next week. It's tough with a six-day turnaround. We've got to make sure we recover well and then start really planning."

Wales only had two locks - Alun Wyn Jones and Jake Ball - available for Monday's match, with Cory Hill still recovering from a stress fracture in his leg.

However, Gatland confirmed Hill's tournament could well be over.

"Possibly," Gatland said when asked if Hill would be returning to the UK. "In terms of fitness, he will go back to the UK if he is not right. We will assess him tomorrow and just see what progress he has made and how his injury is.

"If it is not good news then he will go back. If they think they can get him to recover then he will stay out. We are just going to assess it overnight.

"You just have to draw a line in the sand. You have to look forward. The players have been outstanding this week, the way the senior players have stepped up."

Wales made a flying start to their Rugby World Cup campaign as Gareth Davies starred in a dominant 43-14 win over Georgia in Pool D.

The Six Nations winners made a statement of intent in the first half at the City of Toyota Stadium - Gareth Davies pulling the strings as a bonus point was secured with a 29-0 lead heading into the interval.

Jonathan Davies got things started early on, with Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams getting in on the act as four of Wales' six tries came before the break, while Dan Biggar kept things ticking over with the boot.

With Georgia pulling one back, Wales failed to recapture their first-half form after the restart, though George North teed up one try and scored another to add further gloss to a fine win which sends Warren Gatland's side top of Pool D.

Gareth Davies' pinpoint pass split Georgia's defence open inside three minutes, with Jonathan Davies racing through under the sticks, though Biggar slammed what should have been a simple conversion against the post.

Biggar made no such mistake with a penalty four minutes later and Wales soon doubled their tally of tries - Tipuric's quick feet doing for Georgia this time.

Gareth Davies continued to toy with Georgia, and his wonderful quick take-and-pass set Adams free in the 19th minute, with Liam Williams then wrapping up the bonus point on the stroke of half-time.

Wales' fourth try had come slightly against the run of play, and Georgia had their reward for a strong start to the second half when Shalva Mamukashvili bundled over.

Jaba Bregvadze came on as a substitute shortly after, only to be sent straight back to the sideline after he was penalised for collapsing a maul.

Georgia survived their numerical disadvantage without conceding, but they were undone once more as substitute Tomos Williams latched onto North's excellent grubber.

Levan Chilachava - on his 50th cap - grabbed another Georgia try, but North had the final say when he drove over after Tomos Williams returned the favour with a fantastic offload.

 

Gareth Davies runs the show

The scrum-half featured in all five of Wales' Six Nations fixtures and also scored in three of the pool fixtures at the 2015 World Cup.

He proved too much for Georgia to handle on Monday, creating two of Wales' first three tries either side of playing a crucial role in the second.

Georgia no test for Gatland's men

Wales were sensational in the Six Nations, storming to victory in all five fixtures, yet they won only one of their four warm-up matches.

While they swiftly clicked into gear in this win, Gatland will be well aware there are much sterner challenges to come for his side, with the upcoming clash with Australia crucial in determining who will finish first in the pool.

What's next?

Wales' second Pool D encounter sees them go head-to-head with fellow heavyweights Australia on Sunday, which is also when Georgia face Uruguay.

Wales coach Warren Gatland hopes Alun Wyn Jones can earn more plaudits with a fine performance in his record-equalling 129th Test appearance against Georgia.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions will be the last of the big hitters to kick-off their Rugby World Cup campaign when they take to the field in Toyota on Monday.

As expected, Gatland has named Jones in his line-up and that means the veteran lock will tie Gethin Jenkins' Wales appearance record.

Jones will be key to Wales' hopes of following up their Six Nations success with worldwide domination in Japan and Gatland is keen to see his star man deliver once again in a red shirt.

If he comes through that challege unscathed, the 34-year-old would then be able to claim the record outright in a huge Pool D clash against Australia.

"He has been absolutely outstanding in his services to Welsh rugby," Gatland said of Jones. "He's got better with age - he is like a good wine.

"Hopefully, he comes out of Monday night's game fit and available and, if selected, as he always says, against Australia, he will get that chance to break that Welsh record.

"He doesn't like me talking about these things, but he deserves all the accolades.

"He has been just such a great servant to Welsh rugby and the pleasing thing for me in the last couple of years is that recognition hasn't been just from Wales, it has been worldwide, too.

"People have realised what a contribution he has given to world rugby in terms of his performances and leadership.

"That's pleasing to see, that someone from Wales is recognised as one of the best players in the world in his position."

While Wales have their captain fit and available, opponents Georgia are missing skipper Merab Sharikadze, who is still recovering from injury.

Gatland is not taking them lightly, though, adding: "With Georgia, we know how strong they are up front and their scrum is a weapon. We've got to be competent at scrum time.

"The boys had a good training session this morning. We're really excited - we can't wait for Monday night."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales - Dan Biggar

Gareth Anscombe's pre-tournament knee injury created a space at fly-half and, with Rhys Patchell among the replacements recovering from his own ailment, Biggar is the man who starts the campaign at number 10. He has started just two games for his country in 2019 but has experience on the world stage, having kicked 23 points to see off England four years ago.

Georgia - Tedo Abzhandadze

Abzhandadze, the opposite fly-half, was a star of Georgia's Under-20 team and, still just 20, has earned the starting job at the World Cup, playing what will be only his 10th Test against Wales. His early senior performances have not been entirely convincing and he will need to step up in a big way against the Welsh.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- The only previous meeting between these sides took place in November 2017 when Wales earned a hard-fought 13-6 win.
- Wales come into this fixture having lost their past two Rugby World Cup games. They have never lost three or more in succession at the tournament.
- Among Tier 1 sides, only Argentina have lost as many Rugby World Games to non-Tier 1 opposition as Wales (both three). The Welsh were beaten by Samoa in 1991 and 1999, as well as by Fiji in 2007.
- Georgia have lost 10 out of 10 Rugby World Cup games against Tier 1 opposition, with those defeats coming by an average margin of 33 points.
- Georgia won the 2019 Rugby Europe Championship, the eighth time in the past nine seasons they have triumphed at the second-tier tournament.

Wales' Rugby World Cup squad have pulled together after the shock of backs coach Rob Howley being sent home from Japan over an alleged breach of betting regulations.

On Tuesday, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) confirmed Howley had returned to Wales six days before the team's opening World Cup match against Georgia in order to "assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union".

Head coach Warren Gatland was forced to absorb a potentially damaging blow to his squad on his 56th birthday – something he made light of a Wednesday news conference where he praised the players' togetherness and discussed former Wales fly-half Stephen Jones coming in as Howley's replacement.

"I've had better birthdays, for sure," Gatland told a news conference at Wales' Kitakyushu base.

"We were shocked with it but, as I said, the union are dealing with this and my focus now has to be on the next five days, in terms of preparing the squad for their first game against Georgia.

"I spoke to Stephen Jones the other night about his availability to come in. He was willing to help and do that. The exciting thing about that is he's been in this environment in the past.

"He'll bring his own personality to the squad and have the opportunity to give his own ideas and input.

"For us [we have to] make it as seamless as we possibly can. You have to deal with adversity at times. I must say that the players in the past 24 hours have really stepped up.

"They've been incredibly responsible and resilient and sometimes that brings teams closer together. We've got to draw a line in the sand and really focus on preparing the team for the next five days.

"We got a shock the other day and it took a bit of time for this to sink in."

Dan Biggar could feel the effects of Howley's departure more than most, as he heads into the tournament as Wales' first choice at number 10.

"They [the players] were disappointed," Biggar said. "Especially for people like myself and Jon [centre Jonathan Davies], who have only ever had Rob as coach in the set-up and he has given us every single cap we've had.

"It's a huge disappointment, really, and shock, I suppose, but we are also adults and realise if things like this happen then we have just got to get on with it.

"That's what has been great about this squad over the last year or two. Whatever has come our way – we had a couple of distractions in the last Six Nations and we went on to win our final two games and the Grand Slam – we are strong."

Davies has plenty of experience working alongside Jones for Scarlets and believes he will have a positive impact upon the group.

"As well what he carried over to the coaching side, [what stood out] with Steve was the energy he always had as a player," Davies said. "On the training field he always had that bounce about him.

"He always demands high standards and tactically he wants the boys to play what's in front of them and make sure we make the right decisions.

"There will be a lot of excitement and Steve will give it his best shot, I can guarantee that."

After facing Georgia on September 23, Wales take on Australia, Fiji and Uruguay in Pool D.

Alun Wyn Jones returns to captain Wales for their final Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture against Ireland in a starting line-up featuring 15 changes.

Coach Warren Gatland has opted to make wholesale alterations for the fixture in Dublin following last weekend's 22-17 defeat against the same opponents in Cardiff.

Skipper Jones is joined by fellow powerhouse forwards Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric, while Aaron Wainwright makes up the back-row.

Rhys Patchell impressed enough off the bench against Ireland last time out to earn a place on the plane to Japan and is named at fly-half, with Tomos Williams starting at nine.

An exciting backline sees Hadleigh Parkes link up with Jonathan Davies at centre, while Josh Adams, George North and Leigh Halfpenny make up Wales' back three.

"This is our final preparation match so it is important we get enough rugby into us, get rugby ready ahead of our opener against Georgia which is just over two weeks away," said Gatland, whose squad depart for Japan on Wednesday.

"It is important we hit the ground running in Japan and we give the players enough time on the field.

"Saturday is the first time these players would have taken to the field as members of the World Cup squad, it has been a big week and it is a big opportunity for players to put their hand up and secure spots for the starting XV in Japan."


Wales team to face Ireland: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Rhys Patchell, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty

Replacements: Ken Owen, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams

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.

"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."

Wales coach Warren Gatland has named Rhys Patchell and the injured Cory Hill in his 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup, but Rob Evans and Samson Lee have missed out.

Doubt over Hill's place in the squad intensified on Saturday, when Gatland said it was "up for debate" whether the 24-cap lock, who has missed all the warm-up games with a leg fracture, would be chosen.

Hill, however, will go to Japan, with the 27-year-old selected despite being likely to miss the opening games of Wales' campaign.

Joining Hill is Patchell, despite Jarrod Evans starting at number 10 in Wales' defeat to Ireland on Saturday.

Scarlets front-rowers Evans and Lee – who had looked to be potential starters for the tournament – are surprise omissions, with Rhys Carre coming into a group of five props.

Owen Watkin makes the cut instead of Scott Williams, while Hallam Amos will travel at the expense of Owen Lane.

"Selection is always the toughest part of the job and that is especially true come Rugby World Cup time," said Gatland, who will leave his post after the tournament.

"Reducing the squad down to 31 has been extremely hard especially when you look at the depth we have created and the amount of the work the training squad have put in, for some, 14 weeks of training.

"We are really happy with the final 31, we feel there is an excellent blend to the squad, in terms of talent, experience and age profile and we are all incredibly excited about heading to Japan and what lies ahead."

Wales face Ireland again in Dublin in their final warm-up match on Saturday, before their Rugby World Cup campaign begins with a clash against Georgia on September 23.

Wales Rugby World Cup squad in full:

Forwards: Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Rhys Carre, James Davies, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Ken Owens, Aaron Shingler, Nicky Smith, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright.

Back: Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Hadleigh Parkes, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams.

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