World Cup 2015: JJ backs Cuthbert for Wales spot

Alex Cuthbert
Alex Cuthbert has scored 15 tries in 33 Wales appearances since his 2011 debut against Australia

Wales legend JJ Williams has backed wing Alex Cuthbert to survive Warren Gatland's next 2015 World Cup squad cut and play at the tournament.

Cuthbert's place has been questioned in some quarters and he has seen fellow British and Irish Lions Mike Phillips, Richard Hibbard and James Hook dropped.

Williams accepts the Cardiff Blues wing's form dipped last season.

"[But] I rate him very highly. He knows his way to the try-line," said ex-Wales and Lions star Williams.

"When you're playing for a team like Cardiff, who are struggling, the wingers will be the first people to be exposed.

"If he was playing for a really good side, like Toulon, he'd be running tries in for fun.

"He's a top-quality player and I'm not going to be hard on him.

JJ Williams (left) takes on England
JJ Williams made 30 Wales and seven Lions appearances

"He's lost a bit of form because the team [Blues] has lost a bit of form."

Williams was a member of the star-studded Wales and Lions teams of the 1970s.

He says the current generation produced a "dismal" display in their 35-21 defeat by Ireland in Cardiff last weekend - Wales' first warm-up for the World Cup.

And the former Llanelli player says Wales may have concentrated too much on fitness work at the expense of skills.

"The match was a bit of a fraud really. It was an A international, no more than that.

"We looked poor in it so it makes you wonder if all this fitness training has been overdone and [they've been] neglecting the ball play.

"But I suppose they've got time to put it right in the next three or four weeks."

Richard Hibbard
Richard Hibbard (right) made his Wales debut against Argentina in 2006

He added: "What we need to work on a lot more now they've done the hard grafting work is their skills - everything has to be at the highest level so we can compete against England and Australia [at the World Cup]."

However, Williams says while England do not "frighten" him, even thought they will have home advantage, Australia are a bigger threat.

"When you look at this English side, there's no-one there that says they are truly world class," said Williams.

"That's not the case with Australia - they now have about half a dozen truly world-class players."

Williams also believes Gatland will restore Gloucester hooker Hibbard to the squad before the tournament.

"I would still bring Hibbard back into the squad.

"[Gatland] did say that the door is not closed to anybody. He didn't play particularly well last Saturday. He was walking around the field more than I usually see him.

"He might be totally tired from the heavy training - he is too good a player and we haven't got that strength in depth at the number two position anyway.

"So I think I would definitely bring him back in and I would still open the door for Mike Phillips, but it looks very doubtful that he will come back."

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