MARSEILLE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 14: Dafydd Jenkins of Wales applauds the fans after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Wales and Argentina at Stade Velodrome on October 14, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Dafydd Jenkins Is New Wales Captain Along With Five Uncapped Players

Dy David Williams

Wales coach Warren Gatland has named Dafydd Jenkins as his new captain and five uncapped players in his squad for the Guinness Six Nations Championship.

The squad announcement, though, was overshadowed by Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit being released by Gloucester to pursue his dream of a career in the NFL.

Cardiff quartet Cameron Winnett, Evan Lloyd, Alex Mann and Mackenzie Martin, plus Bath prop Archie Griffin, have all been included among a 34-strong group, with Wales kicking off their campaign against Scotland on February 3.

Exeter’s 21-year-old lock Jenkins, meanwhile, has been appointed as captain with World Cup skipper Jac Morgan likely to miss the whole tournament after undergoing knee surgery, and there is a recall for Cardiff flanker James Botham, grandson of cricket great Sir Ian Botham.

Other injury absentees include number eight Taulupe Faletau, hooker Dewi Lake and Exeter forward Christ Tshiunza.

And there are no places for experienced campaigners such as props Tomas Francis and Dillon Lewis.

Gatland said: “There’s a little bit of experience in terms of players like George North and Gareth Davies – we wanted a little bit of continuity with that and we’re also thinking about the next RWC cycle and giving some youngsters an opportunity, some youngsters that are not featuring regularly for their club sides.

“I’m really excited  about those youngsters and that opportunity to develop them over the next four years. 

“The average age of the squad is about 25 compared to a little bit older during RWC and then you look at this next cycle and you want to get those players to mid to late 20s in terms of experience and age.

“What I’ve learned in the past is that even though we’ve done all that hard work in terms of preparation and build up to the RWC. 

“For me it’s about going back the start a little bit, going back to honing the basics and hammering away at that and almost like starting again. 

“You have to reset in terms of our goals and what we want to achieve. I think Scotland at home is a good game for us, they’re a quality side, they’ll be disappointed with what happened with them in terms of not getting out of the pool at the world cup.

“For us it’s a great game to start at home with a full crowd, packed stadium, exactly what you want under a bit of pressure. 

“If you can get off to a good start and win your opening game then it gives you an opportunity to go further in the tournament.

“This first game is incredibly important to us and those first two weeks in terms of putting in the hard word and bringing the squad together. 

“I hope people can see that what we’re trying to do with the team is to develop some of these youngsters to help support the regions I think that’s really, really important in terms of us working together as a collective going forward – developing the young players but also preparing for a good Six Nations and for the future.”

 

Wales squad for the Guinness Six Nations Championship:

Backs: G Davies (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff), K Hardy (Scarlets), S Costelow (Scarlets), I Lloyd (Scarlets), C Evans (Dragons), N Tompkins (Saracens), O Watkin (Ospreys), G North (Ospreys), M Grady (Cardiff), J Roberts (Scarlets), J Adams (Cardiff), R Dyer (Dragons), C Winnett (Cardiff), T Rogers (Scarlets).

Forwards: G Thomas (Ospreys), C Domachowski (Cardiff), K Mathias (Scarlets), R Elias (Scarlets), E Dee (Dragons), E Lloyd (Cardiff), K Assiratti (Cardiff), A Griffin (Bath), L Brown (Dragons), W Rowlands (Racing 92), A Beard (Ospreys), D Jenkins (Exeter, capt), Teddy Williams (Cardiff), A Wainwright (Dragons), T Reffell (Leicester), A Mann (Cardiff), J Botham (Cardiff), M Martin (Cardiff), T Basham (Dragons).

 

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