Source: INPHO

Wales Extended Six Nations 6N Training Squad

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The one big surprise in Ioan Cunningam’s choice of 47 players to bid for a place in the final 6N squad is Jenny Hesketh, who despite having captained England’s Under 20s side and playing for Bristol Bears, has every right to play for Cymru; she has a Welsh mother.

She offers a pattern that we have seen before with players like Carys Williams-Morris (Wales) and Caity Mattinson (Scotland). England is so well stocked that any player with the option of selecting another country will think she has a far better chance of gaining (or retaining) a coveted cap. It doesn’t always work out so favourably, as Clara Nielson discovered when she opted for Ireland. She has Neve Jones and Cliodhna Moloney blocking her path as hooker.

One detail to come out of these extended squads is how many newcomers will selectors introduce after promising performances in the Celtic Challenge? In Wales’ case only Shona Wakley and Rebecca De Filippo are added to the strength. De Filippo is merely returning after a long absence from the scene. She first wore the red shirt twelve years ago and has gained a score of caps; and Wakley (maybe better known as Powell-Hughes) comes back similarly from a two-year absence.

That means one of two things: either the selectors weren’t all that impressed by the uncapped players in Brython and Gwalia’s squads, or they feel they already have quite enough talent on tap.

Two missing faces are Jasmine Joyce (no surprise, the Olympics beckon) and Sioned Harries, who might see her No 8 berth offered to Wakley. Kayleigh Powell goes missing too. Tess Evans hails from Queensland’s Gold Coast, but represented Gwalia in the Celtic Challenge.

47 is a tidy number to deal with, no matter how many sessions you manage to fit in. But it does help the coaches to have ample playing numbers for all the various sectional practices needed. Whether it’s scrummaging or line-out or fancy moves by the backs, it’s important to have a full cast in action. And some lucky people will find themselves clutching tackle-bags for lengthy periods.

Now we’ll see how many each of the other five nations start their preparations with.

The squad:

Backs: Nel Metcalfe, Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones, Hannah Bluck, Carys Cox, Lleucu George, Keira Bevan, Courtney Keight, Carys Williams-Morris, Meg Webb, Kerin Lake, Robyn Wilkins, Meg Davies, Amelia Tutt, Niamh Terry, Ffion Lewis, Jenny Hesketh, Kelsey Webster, Rebecca De Filippo, Cath Richards, Sian Jones, Ellie Tromans
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Forwards: Gwenllian Pyrs, Carys Phillips, Sisilia Tuipulotu, Abbie Fleming, Georgia Evans, Kate Williams, Alex Callender, Bethan Lewis, Abbey Constable, Kelsey Jones, Donna Rose, Natalia John, Gwen Crabb, Alisha Butchers, Cerys Hale, Bryonie King, Chloe Thomas-Bradley, Molly Reardon, Jenni Scoble, Alaw Pyrs, Maisie Davies, Tess Evans, Gwennan Hopkins, Shona Wakley, Cadi-Lois Davies
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