Wales facing potential selection crisis for last Autumn match
Wales are facing the prospect of having the heart ripped out of their squad for their autumn revenge mission against Australia.
The December 1 Millennium Stadium showdown with the Wallabies – who will be chasing six victories on the trot against Wales – falls outside of the official international window.
As a result, Warren Gatland won’t be able to automatically call on his now sizeable contingent of French and English-based stars.
Wales will be seeking revenge after losing 3-0 against the Wallabies in June and with the likes of Gethin Jenkins, Mike Phillips, James Hook, Luke Charteris and Huw Bennett all set to play in France next year, coach Warren Gatland may not be able to call on their services.
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There will also be doubts surrounding front-rowers Paul James and Rhys Gill who will be in the Aviva Premiership next term. And caretaker boss Rob Howley admits that there could be a conflict between the nation and the clubs.
"There's a question over their availability for the final autumn game, against the Wallabies, as it's outside the IRB window," Howley told reporters. "We need to contact them on an individual basis to find out if they have release clauses in their contracts.
"There may be eight to 10 players affected and obviously that then has an influence on selection throughout the autumn series. If a player is not going to be available for the last game, it does affect your planning.
"If you know you are going to need someone to start in the final game, he's got to play a fair bit of rugby in the first three. You wouldn't want a player to go into that Wallabies match without having played a game for three or four weeks.
"If you look back to our experience in Australia when our players hadn't played for four or five weeks and longer some of them, you can see that. So, someone you might not have been thinking of playing in the first three games might need to come into the equation.
"That's the sort of selection dilemma we have to discuss. It's a challenge."
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