Gareth Delve targets World Cup selection for Wales

Gareth Delve has impressed in his Melbourne Rebels debut season
Gareth Delve has impressed in his Melbourne Rebels debut season

Gareth Delve is determined to play for Wales at this year's World Cup after being named by coach Warren Gatland in a preliminary 45-man squad.

The Melbourne Rebels back-row, 28, has impressed in the fledgling Australian team's Super Rugby campaign.

Injury has limited the former Bath and Gloucester man to 11 caps and ruled him out of the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.

"There's still a lot of work to do but it's great to know I'm in [Gatland's] thoughts," Delve told BBC Sport Wales.

"But all credit to Warren and the guys with Wales, they said that they would be willing to keep an eye on me while I was down here and if my performances merited they'd give me an opportunity.

"So I'm grateful they've been true to their word and the ball's back in my court now to prove I'm worthy of a place on the plane back down to New Zealand."

Delve seemed to have a glittering Test career ahead of him, but only started three games in five years at his first professional side Bath as he suffered the first of a tally of injuries.

He had to undergo a shoulder reconstruction, overcome a damaged cruciate ligament in his right knee and also recover from a broken foot.

The 6ft 3in, 18st 2lb back-row did make the Wales squad under Steve Hansen in 2003, playing as a substitute in the non-cap 48-35 loss to the Barbarians at the Millennium Stadium.

Delve was set for the summer tour of Australia and New Zealand and the autumn World Cup, but instead underwent a second shoulder operation after injuring himself in the Baa-Baas game.

He finally made his full Wales debut against Scotland in the 2006 Six Nations but a ruptured cruciate ligament ruled him out of the 2007 World Cup.

Melbourne Rebels vice-captain Delve has not played for Wales since March 2010, a 27-12 Six Nations loss in Ireland.

"I've missed out on the last two [World Cups] with two fairly big injuries, that was always a disappointing part of my career so far," Delve said.

"I suppose by this age I'd have hoped I'd been an established member of the team and pushing for 50 caps.

"I've been in the mix for nearly eight years now, 11 [caps] is a bit of a disappointing tally but in the same way I'm very proud of achieving those 11 caps and I've always been grateful for every opportunity I've had to play for my country.

"The injuries have taken their toll but I'm proud of the fact I've been able to put myself back in the mix for another World Cup and hopefully this will be third time lucky."

A move to Gloucester in 2007 coincided with more game time and fewer injuries, while the Cardiff-born forward becoming the first Welshman to play in Super Rugby after opting to join the Rebels in March 2010.

"The life experience as well as the rugby side of it has been incredible," Delve added.

"I feel I've matured a fair bit, living this far away from my family and my friends has been really tough but... I've really enjoyed it.

"It was great to get the news this week that I'm part of the extended squad.

"That gives me the opportunity, once I get back at the end of the season, to try and do my best to push for a place in the World Cup squad."

WALES PRELIMINARY RUGBY WORLD CUP SQUAD

FORWARDS:

Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Lloyd Burns (Dragons), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets); Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Paul James (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Craig Mitchell (Exeter Chiefs), John Yapp (Cardiff Blues); Luke Charteris (Dragons), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Lou Reed (Scarlets); Gareth Delve (Melbourne Rebels), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Rob McCusker (Scarlets), Andy Powell (Sale Sharks), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Sam Warburton (Blues), Martyn Williams (Blues).

BACKS:

Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks), Mike Phillips (Ospreys), Richie Rees (Blues); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Jason Tovey (Dragons), James Hook (Perpigan); Andrew Bishop (Ospreys), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Gavin Henson (Unattached), Jamie Roberts (Blues); George North (Scarlets), Aled Brew (Dragons), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Lee Byrne (Clermont Auvergne), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues).

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