Wayne Pivac has named Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans in Wales’ Six Nations squad, resisting the temptation to recall Bath playmaker Rhys Priestland.
Scarlets back-row forward Josh MacLeod is the sole uncapped player in head coach Pivac’s 36-man squad for the Six Nations, with senior men Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones and Josh Navidi all selected after injury concerns.
Priestland has not played a Test match since 2017 having moved to England, but is expected to return to Wales next year and Pivac was thought to have the option of selecting the 34-year-old.
Evans is the only fly-half in the squad currently plying his trade in Wales, with Dan Biggar at Northampton and Callum Sheedy impressing with Bristol.
Dan Lydiate could be primed for a first Test run since facing Australia in 2018, while Kieran Hardy, Johnny Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit join Sheedy in winning selection having made their international debuts in the autumn.
“We are hugely looking forward to meeting up as a squad on Monday and to the forthcoming campaign,” said Pivac, with Wales hosting Ireland on February 7 to start their Six Nations campaign.
“As we consistently spoke about, the autumn for us was about opportunity and development, looking ahead to Rugby World Cup 2023 and it served that purpose for us.
“This campaign is different, it is tournament rugby and we are excited to get going and play our part.
“We have picked a squad for this tournament based on form and we are excited to meet up on Monday and get our preparation underway.”
The Bath star’s mooted move to Cardiff for next term would remove this stumbling block, and Wales were thought to have weighed up whether to include him now on the special dispensation of a pending return to home soil.
Scarlets star Hardy has won the nod ahead of the Ospreys’ experienced campaigner Rhys Webb, with Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams the other two scrum-halves.
Bristol’s electric wing Ioan Lloyd can count himself unlucky not to have made Pivac’s squad, having set the Premiership alight this term.
The 19-year-old won his first two caps across Wales’ autumn series, but has been unable to squeeze into the senior squad this time around.
Dragons flanker Ross Moriarty continues to nurse his long-term ankle problem and was not deemed ready to contest selection.