Rugby World Cup 2015: Wales drop Hibbard, Hook and Phillips

Wales coach Warren Gatland has dropped British and Irish Lions trio Mike Phillips, James Hook and Richard Hibbard from his 2015 World Cup training squad.They are joined by less experienced players Nicky Smith, Rory Thornton, Dan Baker, Rhys Patchell and Jack Dixon in having their tournament hopes dashed.Gatland has left 38 players to battle for a place in the 31-man final squad.Wales face hosts England, Australia, Uruguay and Fiji in Pool A.Scrum-half Phillips, capped 94 times, and fly-half Hook – who has played 78 times for Wales – may have played their last games for their country.But it is hooker Hibbard’s omission that is arguably the biggest surprise.Cardiff Blues hooker Kristian Dacey won his first Wales cap off the bench in last weekend’s 35-21 defeat by Ireland, a game that Hibbard started.With 38 Wales caps and three Lions Tests under Gatland on the successful tour to Australia in 2013, leaving out 31-year-old Hibbard is Gatland’s bravest call among the forwards.Phillips also has five Lions Test appearances to his name, taking his overall tally in international rugby to 99.

The scrum-half spot will now be contested by Rhys Webb, Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams, whose international prospects have been revitalised.

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