In an ideal world, the process of removing older players from Warren Gatland’s 2023 Six Nations squad would have started earlier.
Alun Wyn Jones, 36, Leigh Halfpenny, 34, and recalled Rhys Webb, 36, are the team’s new captains.
Coach Gatland was questioned about the possibility of leaving out such veterans.
He answered: “I did, indeed. It was a task that needed to be completed sooner. I believe that timing is of the essence.”
In December 2022, Gatland replaced fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac as the head coach of Wales, beginning his second tenure in the position. He stressed that his remarks were “not a critique on the previous management.”
Gatland has chosen members of the 37-man squad, which includes four players with no international experience, from Wales legends with nine months till the World Cup kicks off in France.
Gatland continued, “Some of that experience needs to be in that team to help with the youngsters who don’t have many caps to their name.
We need to manage some new players who have recently joined the team as well as some older, very seasoned guys.
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Gatland chose eight more players who were 30 or older for the Six Nations in addition to Owens, Jones, Halfpenny, and Webb.
They are Tomas Francis, Wyn Jones, and George North, all of whom are 30 years old; Liam Williams, who is 31; Taulupe Faletau, who is 32; Alex Cuthbert, who is 32; and Dan Biggar, who is 33.
Gatland claimed that his side would have had a younger demographic if he had taken the position within the previous three years, according to the BBC podcast Scrum V.
He emphasized that he wasn’t angry about it, saying: “It is challenging because of the high expectations and pressure to succeed that come with coaching international rugby teams.
“The disadvantage of choosing younger players is that you will have to go through some hardships with them as you gain experience and learn from those experiences. That implies that sometimes you don’t obtain the performances you seek right soon.
“When you bring in young players with the confidence to do that and try to find the balance, it is always a problem for coaches.
Biggar agreed not to pout if Wales’ captaincy was not selected.
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Pivac is unhappy that his World Cup dream was dashed.
“It’s difficult to get it right, but that will be the task over the next 10 months as we work to prepare these young people to succeed.
“We need that experience, but we also need to make sure that some of the young players get game time because we might need them if we have injuries.
“Over the past few years, many players have been chosen for Wales, but there hasn’t been much consistency in terms of the number of caps those players have received or occasionally the lineups.
“That’s been difficult; it’s not a judgment of the previous administration; they were dealing with Covid-19 and other difficulties, and they sustained injuries in specific places.
“It has been difficult for them. In Wales, there is constant pressure to deliver and produce results.
“How we give those youngsters more caps and time in the middle to produce will be the main issue over the next 10 months.”