Six Nations: Cardiff Blues fly-half Gareth Anscombe in Wales squad

Cardiff Blues signed Wales-qualified Gareth Anscombe from Waikato Chiefs in July 2014
Cardiff Blues signed Wales-qualified Gareth Anscombe from Waikato Chiefs in July 2014

New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe has been included in the Wales squad for the 2015 Six Nations Championship.

The uncapped Cardiff Blues fly-half is joined in Warren Gatland's squad by fellow rookies prop Rob Evans, hooker Kristian Dacey and centre Tyler Morgan.

There is no place for Gloucester fly-half James Hook or veteran tight-head prop Adam Jones in a 34-man squad.

"It's great to be able to name such an experienced squad that also boasts some exciting young talent," Gatland said.

"The four uncapped players have all been going well for their respective regions and it will be good to see them in this environment and we hope they take the opportunity.

"They come into a squad packed with experience and that experience will be important to us over the next eight weeks and the year as a whole."

Wales open their Six Nations campaign on Friday, 6 February against England in Cardiff.

Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland will be taking charge of Wales for seventh time in the Six Nations Championship.

Anscombe, 23, has made nine appearances for Blues since arriving from New Zealand and qualifies for Wales through his Cardiff-born mother.

Dan Biggar and Rhys Priestland are the other recognised fly-halves in the squad, with no call-up for Leicester's Owen Williams.

Anscombe is also comfortable at full-back and centre, and his versatility has helped him get the nod over Hook who has performed a similar role for Wales in the past.

Hook was initially left out of the squad for the autumn internationals in 2014, but was brought back following injuries and made a substitute appearance in the 34-16 defeat by New Zealand - his 77th appearance for his country.

Gatland has seen his choices at hooker reduced by injuries to Scarlets pair Ken Owens and Emyr Phillips.

That sees Dacey of the Blues called up as the third hooker behind British and Irish Lion Richard Hibbard and Scott Baldwin of Ospreys.

Scarlets prop Rhodri Jones is also sidelined by a shoulder injury, as is Ospreys' Nicky Smith, but 95-times capped Lions and Blues tight-head Jones is again overlooked after being left out during the autumn.

Instead it is Wales Under-20 prop Evans who joins Gethin Jenkins, Paul James, Aaron Jarvis, Samson Lee and Scott Andrews in the squad.

Despite impressing for Blues in the back-row this season, Josh Navidi misses out on selection because of Wales' strength in depth in that position.

Captain Sam Warburton heads the breakaway section that includes Ospreys trio Dan Lydiate, James King and Justin Tipuric, along with Newport Gwent Dragons' Taulupe Faletau.

Wales' Six Nations Fixtures:
Friday, 6 February: England (Cardiff)
Sunday, 15 February: Scotland (Murrayfield)
Saturday, 28 February: France (Paris)
Saturday, 14 March: Ireland (Cardiff)
Saturday, 21 March: Italy (Rome)

Rising Dragons centre Morgan, who recently signed a national dual-contract, has also been named in the Wales Under-20 squad and the centre will be released from the senior camp to link up with the age-group side during the campaign.

Wales are well served in midfield with Lions duo Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies along with Scott Williams and Cory Allen.

Options at scrum-half are Gareth Davies, who earned his first cap against South Africa last summer, returning from injury to be included along with Mike Phillips and Rhys Webb.

Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, George North, Alex Cuthbert and Hallam Amos are named as the back-three options.

"We all know how tough the Six Nations is and we kick the tournament off with a huge game against England and that is something you have to be excited about and look forward to," Gatland added.

"We were pleased on the whole with the autumn campaign and this is another opportunity for us as we look ahead to a very big year in the rugby calendar."

WALES 2015 SIX NATIONS SQUAD:

Forwards: Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Paul James (Bath), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), James King (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Backs: Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon).

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