Welsh Rugby World Cup Blow: Cory Hill Withdraws from Training Squad
In a devastating turn of events, Wales has been dealt another blow to their chances for this autumn’s World Cup in France. Cory Hill, the 31-year-old lock and part of coach Warren Gatland’s plans, has withdrawn from the training squad due to his decision to take up a club contract.
The Fourth Player Withdrawal for Wales
Hill becomes the fourth player to withdraw from Gatland’s preliminary squad following international retirements of Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb. His departure leaves a significant dent in the team’s preparation as he was an integral part of their Six Nations victory in both 2019 and 2021.
In light of his withdrawal, Hill expressed disappointment but cited family reasons behind his decision. While he is not retiring from Test rugby, he will not be travelling with the rest of the team later this year. He said in a statement released by Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), “I’m gutted to be leaving the squad but an opportunity has come up and I need to take it for my family.” It remains unclear which club will sign him at present.
Hill won 32 caps for Wales but became ineligible when he moved to Japan last year due to being short of WRU’s eligibility requirement – players based overseas should have more than sixty caps. However, that limit was lowered earlier this year down to twenty-five making him eligible again. Hill stirred interest among all four Welsh regions last month after leaving Japan with apparent desires on returning home and resurrecting his international career. Sadly, the lucrative offer he received from elsewhere only means that Wales has lost one of its most successful locks just when it needed him most.
Hill’s absence is undoubtedly a significant blow to the team’s preparations for the World Cup. His experience and abilities in the lock position were invaluable during their triumphs in recent years, but with his departure from training camp, Wales will need to regroup quickly ahead of their campaign in France later this year.