Wales World Cup squad: Cory Hill selection worth gamble says Warren Gatland

Wales lock Cory Hill has won 24 caps and scored two tries

Wales coach Warren Gatland says it is worth the gamble of picking injured lock Cory Hill for the 2019 World Cup.

Hill has been included in the 31-man squad for Japan despite being sidelined for the opening game against Georgia on 23 September with a small fracture in his leg.

The 27-year-old is hoping to be fit for the second match against Australia six days later.

“We felt that it is worth the risk,” said Gatland.

Hill has not played since scoring a try in the Six Nations win over England in Cardiff in February and his return to action has been delayed.

“Cory’s got a small stress fracture high on his leg,” explained Gatland.

“We’d scanned him initially and nothing showed up so he was rehabbing back into training.

“He still didn’t feel 100 per cent, he felt sore, so we re-scanned him last Friday and it showed up a slight fracture.

“The disappointing thing is if we had picked it up three weeks ago then he wouldn’t be far away and would possibly have been alright for the game against Ireland this weekend but nothing showed up on the original scan.”

Gatland revealed Welsh Rugby Union medical manager Prav Mathema had sought advice from Football Association of Wales on trying to get Hill back in action.

“Prav and the physio spoke to somebody from the FAW and one of their players had a more clean break and they got him back playing in 30 days,” said Gatland.

“Cory this week goes down to Swansea to use an oxygen chamber and is on a plan now where we de-load him for a few weeks.

“They are confident that he will be up and training for that second game against Australia and he is a pretty good athlete, so we are not worried from a conditioning point of view.

“With a different type of player it definitely would have been a concern but he has been doing a lot of off-feet conditioning and will continue to do that.”

Wales squad ‘good enough’ to win World Cup – Warren Gatland

Captain Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard and Jake Ball are the other specialist second-rows in the squad, with flanker Aaron Shingler also capable of playing at lock after being named as one of six back-rowers.

After the opening games against Georgia and Australia, Wales have a long break for their third match against Fiji on 9 October followed by Uruguay four days later.

Gatland believes Hill will be worth the wait and hopes he will be fit to face Australia.

“Cory is pretty important to the group with his experience and his lineout calling, and he did a great job as co-captain in Argentina last year,” said Gatland.

“The initial conversations were that he would be back for Australia or Fiji and I felt that if it was Fiji it might have been too much of a risk.

“That’s why I have said there are some markers that will be put down, hopefully he hits those markers over the next few weeks and we know that we are on track for Australia.”

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