Get the latest Welsh rugby news sent straight to your inbox
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named his 38-man squad for the autumn fixtures and the announcement was not without its surprises.
There were seven uncapped players in total with Kieran Hardy, Ioan Lloyd, Josh Macleod, Sam Parry, Callum Sheedy, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit all getting the call. You can see the full Wales squad here.
But as with all squad announcements, there are winners and then there are those whose luck deserted them.
Such is the strength in depth in Wales now, there is a lengthy list of capable absentees.
So let’s take a closer look at the unlucky ones:
This will be a bit of a body blow for the tight-head from the Rhondda.
He was due to make his Wales debut against Scotland in the Six Nations but is now not even in the squad when the postponed fixture will actually be played.
With that in mind, he is in danger of becoming a real pub quiz question.
One hopes it doesn’t come to that and that he does one day get his chance to pull on the red jersey. There is, however, work to do with Pivac raising questions over his fitness.
“He has parts of his game that he needs to work on,” insisted the Wales boss.
“Bringing him into the camp, we learned a lot about Will and he learned a lot about the preparation needed and the shape you need to be in to play at this level of the game.
“He’s worked really hard, he’s lost some weight, he’s in much better shape and we’ve talked to him about playing week in, week out and showing some consistency in his game across the board.
“He’s had a clear message.”
The hooker has lost his place in the squad to Sam Parry. It’s a surprising one given Dee has been a mainstay in the squad for a number of years now.
But, since Pivac’s arrival on the scene, things haven’t gone smoothly for him, most notably when he missed the start of the Six Nations through injury.
It will be a difficult one to stomach for Dee, but he’s the type of character who will respond appropriately and you’d expect to see him fired up for the Dragons in the coming weeks.
“Elliot has only played a couple of games of rugby since before the Six Nations. He didn’t play in that campaign due to injury,” said Pivac.
“It was an opportunity for us to take a look at some of the other hookers. We want to have a look at Sam Parry, he’s a big man at around 110 kilos. He’s got a good carrying game and is a very physical player.
“He’s a slightly different player to Elliot, we know what Elliot can do and he’s been spoken to. He knows he needs a run of games at club level to get his minutes back up and his form to where it needs to be.
“He’ll certainly be in consideration for the Six Nations.”
Another shock omission from the squad.
Over the last two years, Beard and Dee have almost symbolised the future of the Welsh national side and within a year of Pivac arriving on the scene, both have been dropped.
Beard misses out to Seb Davies, who has possibly got the edge due to his athleticism around the field. Maybe he is more suited to the expansive game Pivac might be looking to play.
Either way, the towering Ospreys lock will be playing with a point to prove in the next few weeks.
The abrasive young back-rower can deem himself unfortunate not to be involved.
There’s a good chance he will have been banging on the door of Dragons boss Dean Ryan in recent weeks having perhaps not had the opportunities he might have liked.
He was on the bench for the game against Leinster at the weekend and it’s tough to catch the eye of national selectors when you’re sat there.
Perhaps being in a side that hasn’t been winning games hasn’t helped. When you’re in a losing team, 50-50 selection calls go against.
When Pivac decided he was going to select six, not seven, back row forwards then the die was cast on this one.
Lewis-Hughes has been in brilliant form for the Cardiff Blues of late and looks to have it all, including time on his side.
He’s a big old boy and regularly wins collisions on the gainline, whether that be in defence or attack, which is a desirable trait.
He competes well at the breakdown and is useful at the lineout. He must have been heavily considered by Pivac.
But Scarlets’ Josh Macleod simply had to make the squad after his irresistible form for the Scarlets.
Lewis-Hughes’ time will come.
The diminutive fly-half came within 40 minutes of making the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad and was involved throughout the start of the 2020 Six Nations.
He is clearly highly-regarded in the national setup and has played well for the Blues since rugby’s return, making this a tricky one.
The truth is, Sheedy has demanded recognition and is playing in a side which is competing on domestic and European fronts.
“Jarrod [Evans] got a run in the Six Nations and we just wanted to cast the net a little bit,” said Pivac.
“Callum has been playing well for Bristol and we think he has a good all-around game.
“At 23 years of age, he’s got a big future in front of him.
“We’ve spoken to all the 10s. We had a Zoom call with about 55 local players and we talked around the season that’s coming.
“Those that haven’t been named in that position have been spoken to. We certainly think Callum has a big future in the game and we’re looking forward to working with him.”
The speedster’s acrobatics caught the headlines at the weekend as he finished in emphatic fashion for the Dragons’ only try against Leinster on Guinness PRO14 opening night.
There’s no substitute for pace and Hewitt has it in spades.
He’s been in and around the Wales squad since Pivac came to town but is yet to make his debut three years after his first ever Wales call-up.
He had looked a good bet to make it this time.
“Ashton came into the squad in the Six Nations because of injuries,” said Pivac.
“He’s a player that also has work-ons in his game, which he’ll be doing at club level.
“For us, Jonah [Holmes] can play full-back and wing and has done so for Wales. He brings a little bit more to the table for us at the moment.”
If it wasn’t going to be Hewitt, then your next best guess would have probably been Evans from the Scarlets.
But he also misses out despite looking dangerous for the Scarlets over the August derby period.
“If we look at try-scoring, I don’t think the Scarlets have scored a try in their last two competitive matches,” said Pivac.
“We know Steff very well. I spoke to him at training a couple of weeks back.
“Nothing has changed, he knows the areas of his game that need to be worked on and he’s made solid improvements.
“He’ll play a number of club games now and show the consistency that we’re after.”
This content was originally published here.