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Hill recall 'demoralising' for Wales-based players

Cory Hill

Ex-Wales lock Ian Gough has criticised Cory Hill's surprise international recall as "demoralising" for home-based players.

Hill, 32, has not played for Wales in three years having joined Japanese fourth-division side Secom Rugguts.

But he has benefitted from a second-row crisis in Wales caused by injury, suspension and unavailability to be included in Warren Gatland's summer squad to face South Africa and Australia.

Adam Beard, Rhys Davies and Teddy Williams are all injured, Seb Davies is serving a three-game ban while Will Rowlands is being rested.

Exeter pair Dafydd Jenkins and Christ Tshiunza are unavailable for the Springboks Test, being played outside the official international window.

But Gough, who won 64 caps between 1998 and 2009, called Warren Gatland's decision to recall Hill as a "wrong message" to other players.

'Park rugby in Japan'

"For Cory Hill to get the red carpet back into the Wales squad grates on me," he told Radio Wales Sport.

"He went to Japan for money, which is fine, but how can you pick someone who has been playing park rugby in Japan for a squad to play South Africa.

"He was a fantastic player but you should always judge on form and when was the last time he played a top-end game?

"When was the last time he was tested at any level, even a Champions Cup game or a URC quarter-final?"

He added: "I don't agree with it. It doesn't send a good message to those players who stayed in Wales to ply their trade.

"It must be very demoralising for someone like Morgan Morris who has shown real consistency over the years and doesn't get in.

"Perhaps there is method in the madness but it seems like throwing a feather in the air and seeing which way the wind blows."

Sam Costelow, Jacob Beetham and Ben Thomas
Sam Costelow, Jacob Beetham and Ben Thomas will cover the Wales number 10 jersey this summer [Huw Evans Picture Agency]

Former Wales scrum-half Andy Moore also questioned Gatland's decision to select just one specialist outside-half in Sam Costelow.

Gatland says he wants more physical fly-half options with Cardiff duo Ben Thomas and Jacob Beetham identified as cover for Costelow.

But Moore said: "It feels we're trying people out at international level but it's a tough breeding ground at 10 against South Africa and even Australia.

"Ben Thomas has plied all his trade in midfield and Jacob Beetham has limited experience at 15, but now we're talking about possibly covering at 10 in a Test.

"I hope these players don't fall victim to the fact that they can cover two or three positions and as a consequence, lose the opportunity to nail one down."

Morris and Smith unlucky

Gough and Moore were both perplexed by the absence of Ospreys pair Morris and Nicky Smith.

The two forwards helped Ospreys to quarter-finals in both the European Challenge Cup and the United Rugby Championship but were overlooked by Gatland.

Both pundits believe 46-cap prop Smith would provide experience - particularly against the Springboks - and felt the consistency of number eight Morris deserved a Test call.

"Warren says he judges the Ospreys players on the games they lost against big teams, but other regions have suffered huge losses as well this season and he's picked from them. So that excuse feels hollow," said Gough.

"I'm sure Wales have analysed Morris but he should have it spelt out to him what he needs to work on because he has been so consistent over recent years.

"Wales really needs ball-carriers like him because against Italy we were firing pea-shooters against tanks until Mason Grady came on."