Rugby World Cup 2015: Wales drop Hibbard, Hook and Phillips

James Hook, Richard Hibbard and Mike Phillips
James Hook, Richard Hibbard and Mike Phillips have 210 caps between them

Wales coach Warren Gatland has dropped British and Irish Lions trio Mike Phillips, James Hook and Richard Hibbard from his 2015 World Cup training squad.

They are joined by less experienced players Nicky Smith, Rory Thornton, Dan Baker, Rhys Patchell and Jack Dixon in having their tournament hopes dashed.

Gatland has left 38 players to battle for a place in the 31-man final squad.

Wales face hosts England, Australia, Uruguay and Fiji in Pool A.

Scrum-half Phillips, capped 94 times, and fly-half Hook - who has played 78 times for Wales - may have played their last games for their country.

But it is hooker Hibbard's omission that is arguably the biggest surprise.

Cardiff Blues hooker Kristian Dacey won his first Wales cap off the bench in last weekend's 35-21 defeat by Ireland, a game that Hibbard started.

Wales coach Warren Gatland

With 38 Wales caps and three Lions Tests under Gatland on the successful tour to Australia in 2013, leaving out 31-year-old Hibbard is Gatland's bravest call among the forwards.

Phillips also has five Lions Test appearances to his name, taking his overall tally in international rugby to 99.

The scrum-half spot will now be contested by Rhys Webb, Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams, whose international prospects have been revitalised.

Hook has fallen in and out of favour since Gatland became Wales coach in 2007 and promptly won the 2008 Grand Slam.

He partnered Phillips at half-back during that tournament, but has seen Dan Biggar become the established fly-half.

James Hook
Gloucester's James Hook took to Twitter after being omitted from Wales' World Cup squad

Blues' Gareth Anscombe has overtaken team-mate Patchell as a utility back, but Rhys Priestland is Biggar's main back-up at 10.

Bristol's Matthew Morgan also remains a fly-half and full-back contender.

Gatland said: "It's been a difficult task reducing the squad down and deciding who will meet up with us again on Monday."

The New Zealander added: "There will be disappointment from the players but it's important to stress that the door is not closed.

"We name our final Rugby World Cup squad on 31 August and a lot can happen between now and then."

Wales play two remaining warm-up matches, against Ireland in Dublin on 29 August and Italy in Cardiff on 5 September.

Revised Wales squad

Props: Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Paul James (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Samson Lee (Scarlets).

Hookers: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets).

Locks: Jake Ball (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Dominic Day (Bath), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys).

Back-rows: Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt).

Scrum-halves: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues).

Fly-halves: Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Matthew Morgan (Bristol), Rhys Priestland (Bath).

Centres: Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Scott Williams (Scarlets).

Wings: Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Eli Walker (Ospreys).

Full-backs: Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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