Rugby World Cup: 'England & Wales' pool winners to reach final'

Dan Biggar in Wales' Rugby World Cup training camp in Switzerland
Dan Biggar is among those being beasted at Wales' Rugby World Cup training camp in Switzerland

Former Wales centre Tom Shanklin thinks the winners of Wales' Rugby World Cup pool will go on to reach the final.

Warren Gatland's side will be vying with hosts England and Australia to top Pool A, which also includes Fiji and Uruguay.

Shanklin, 35, who won 70 caps for Wales between 2001 and 2011, expects it to be tight whoever comes out on top.

"I think it's going to come down to points difference but whoever finishes top will reach the final," he said.

"The pool is so tough. England have their final game against Uruguay which is annoying because it will probably play into their hands knowing how many points they need to score to qualify."

Tomas Francis infographic

Wales kick off their World Cup campaign against Uruguay on 20 September before facing England, Fiji and Australia.

Gatland's men are preparing for the tournament with training camps in the heat of Qatar, high altitude in Switzerland, and Poland.

They will play home and away warm-up games against Ireland in August, with a final pre-World Cup match against Italy on 5 September.

Their 47-man training squad will be trimmed down to 31 at the end of August.

Nine uncapped players, including Gloucester back-row Ross Moriarty and Exeter tight-head prop Tom Francis, are fighting for a place in the final group.

Shanklin, who played in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, believes some of the younger players such as the England-based pair could make the cut.

"Warren Gatland brings a lot of youngsters in and they are keen and they push the more senior players," said Shanklin.

"We've seen Warren Gatland pick players who have trained very well.

"They are there for a reason to shake things up a little bit.

"It wouldn't surprise me if one or two youngsters actually get the nod.

"It's such a strong squad that there's going to be some very unlucky people who miss out."

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