Michael Owen backs Andy Powell's Wales future

Andy Powell in training for Wales
Controversy has dogged Powell in recent years

Former Wales captain Michael Owen believes Andy Powell's exit from Wasps will not affect his chances of making the Welsh World Cup squad.

Powell is to leave Wasps by mutual consent after he was suspended by the club following a pub brawl.

It leaves the 29-year-old back-rower without a club with the World Cup starting in New Zealand in October.

"I don't think it will make much difference... [to] what goes on with the World Cup," said Owen.

"Warren Gatland [Wales coach] has been a real fan of Andy Powell. He has given him his chance to play international rugby and has stuck by him.

"Wales will have their own pre-season, so it could actually work to his advantage, because he will be available for the full season and there won't be any issue with the English clubs."

But despite believing his international future is secure Owen says Powell will probably feel embarrassed at what has happened at Wasps.

Powell had joined Wasps on a one-year contract in July last year after he was released early by Cardiff Blues after five years with the region.

He had been dropped form the Wales squad in February 2010 following an incident following the win over Scotland in the Six Nations.

Powell later pleaded guilty to driving a golf buggy while unfit through drink in March 2010. He was banned from driving for 15 months and fined £1,000 as a result.

"I think he will be gutted. He seemed to have fitted in really well at Wasps and it was only a short time ago they were speaking really highly of him," added Owen.

"Wasps must feel he doesn't fit into what they want from a professional rugby player and have decided to move him on.

"There are plenty of clubs and I'm sure he will get an opportunity somewhere. I think it's pretty embarrassing to be released and I'm sure he is disappointed.

"I imagine he will end up going to France. I know he went to France before earlier in his career and it that didn't work out when he went to Bezier so it's going to be a difficult time for him and a difficult decision."

Former Wales back-row forward Emyr Lewis believes it will be a brave club that signs Powell.

"Unfortunately he's come unstuck again," said Lewis.

"He's had another opportunity with Wasps [and] he has been playing relatively well.

"It's difficult then for players to find contracts and clubs that are willing to take them on because of disciplinary issues.

"Obviously he has got disciplinary issues. Everyone knows that obviously with the buggy incident and now this.

"They are high profile incidents so it would be very difficult and it would be a very brave club to take him on board.

"Players these days have a responsibility to keep themselves fit, keep themselves out of trouble because they are role models."

In the next couple of weeks Gatland will have to sit down and name a squad for the World Cup warm-up games which Wales start with a capped match against the Barbarians on June 4 and have a further three games - against England home away and versus Argentina - in August.

The Welsh Rugby Union requested a meeting with Powell following his suspension by Wasps.

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