Fourth player pulls out of Wales squad as club deal too good to turn down

Cory Hill for Wales Credit: Alamy
Cory Hill for Wales Credit: Alamy

Wales have been hit by a fourth player withdrawal from their preliminary Rugby World Cup training squad after second-row Cory Hill pulled out.

Hill, who has been playing his club rugby in Japan, has decided to take up a contract opportunity outside of Wales, the Welsh Rugby Union said.

The 31-year-old is a former Cardiff and Dragons lock and revealed he’s “gutted” about leaving the team but felt the contract was too good to snub.

Deal too good to turn down

“I’m gutted to be leaving the squad, but an opportunity has come up and I need to take it for my family,” Hill revealed as Wales lose another lock.

“Wishing the boys all the best at the World Cup, and I hope to be back in a Wales jersey in the future.”

Indeed, fellow lock Alun Wyn Jones joined flanker Justin Tipuric and scrum-half Rhys Webb in retiring shortly after being included in the squad.

Head coach Warren Gatland announced a 54-man group last month as they step up their preparations for the Rugby World Cup later this year.

But it’s been far from smooth sailing as those retirements were followed by prop Rhys Carre being released due to not meeting performance targets.

The PA news agency understands Wales have no plans to call in a replacement for Hill, whose new club want him available during the World Cup.

Another setback for Wales

Second-row Hill made his Wales bow against Australia in 2016, while a 32nd and latest appearance came during the 2021 Six Nations against France.

The remaining locks in Wales’ squad are Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Dafydd Jenkins, Ben Carter, Rhys Davies, Teddy Williams and Christ Tshiunza.

Wales have been drawn in Pool C of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, alongside Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal and face Fiji in their opening match.

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