Rugby World Cup 2015: Richard Hibbard omission 'shocks' Williams

Richard Hibbard
Hooker Richard Hibbard has won 38 Wales caps

Former Wales wing Shane Williams says he is worried by Richard Hibbard's omission from Wales' World Cup squad.

The Gloucester hooker was cut following the 21-35 warm-up defeat to Ireland.

"I thought that Richard Hibbard with his scrummaging strength and his physicality would have been a clear shot of being involved in the World Cup," said Wales' record try-scorer.

"That's one of the reasons I was shocked by his non-selection, so that again is very worrying."

Hibbard, 31, has won 38 Wales caps and played three Tests for the British and Irish Lions - under the charge of Wales coach Warren Gatland - on the successful tour to Australia in 2013.

With Wales having suffered injuries to front-row players, Williams believes that Hibbard could have added to their options.

"I don't pretend to be an expert on the front row but we have a lot of problems with the strength and the power in our front three," said Williams, 38, who scored 58 tries in 87 Tests for Wales before retiring from international rugby in 2011.

Shane Williams played his last Test for Wales in December 2011 against Australia
Shane Williams played his last Test for Wales in December 2011 against Australia

"The tight-head position [is a concern] with the likes of Samson Lee still not fit and Rhodri Jones has had his injury.

"If Wales have another injury in that position, such as Aaron Jarvis, they could be in a lot of trouble and that worries me."

Williams believes that another area of the team that could be vulnerable if injuries strike is centre, as Wales are already without injured Lions star Jonathan Davies.

"In the centre berth at the moment you'd go for Jamie Roberts and Scott Williams," Williams said.

"Tyler Morgan would come in there, who played pretty well in the second half against Ireland however he hasn't got the experience.

"So there are a few areas and positions - and it's not panic stations - where England and Australia are looking very strong at the moment."

Impressive Ireland deny Wales

Wales face England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay in an incredibly tough World Cup pool.

As hosts, England will have home advantage when they meet Wales at Twickenham on 26 September, while Australia - who Wales have not beaten since 2008 - have impressed by winning this season's Rugby Championship.

Only the top two sides from each group qualify for the quarter-finals.

But Williams believes the perceived strength of England and Australia could work in Wales' favour by easing the pressure on Gatland's side.

"Wales go into this now probably the third favourite out of the three and maybe that will relax the players knowing that against England [at Twickenham] Wales are always underdogs," Williams added.

"And Australia, after their success of late, puts them favourites in front of Wales, so if anything it takes the pressure off Wales a little bit."

Gatland will reduce his 38-man squad to a final 31 on 31 August and Wales will kick off their World Cup campaign against Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday, 20 September.

Wales' World Cup pool games
Sunday, 20 Sept, 14:30 BST: Wales v Uruguay, Millennium Stadium
Saturday, 26 Sept, 20:00 BST: England v Wales, Twickenham Stadium
Thursday, 1 Oct, 16:45 BST: Wales v Fiji, Millennium Stadium
Saturday, 10 Oct, 16:45 BST: Wales v Australia, Twickenham Stadium

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