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Cunningham insists places are up for grabs after naming Canada squad

Ioan Cunningham

Ioan Cunningham wants his players to be pushed to their physical limits

Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham insisted places are up for grabs in his World Cup side after announcing a 37-strong squad for their trip to Canada.

As preparations for October’s World Cup in New Zealand in October are stepped up, Wales have training week followed by a Test match against Canada in Halifax on at 9pm UK time.

It will be a good opportunity for the former Scarlets coach to assess his team’s development, after Wales went down 24-7 when they welcomed Canada to Cardiff last November.

Five uncapped players are called up with Eloise Hayward, Lowri Norkett, Liliana Podpadec, Jenni Scoble and Carys Williams all in line for international debuts.

Cunningham said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for some players who didn’t have many or any opportunities during the Six Nations and we want to reward some players who have trained really well with us recently. We’re excited to see how they deliver against a top nation.

“Competition is very high. We have to finalise a 32 to get on the plane and we want players to have a chance to show us what they can do.

“If they go out and perform, the opportunity is there for them for the World Cup and beyond.”

Wales begin their World Cup campaign with a home nations clash against Scotland, who they overcame 24-19 in the second round of this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

And Cunningham believes his side must be pushed to their physical limits, if they are to enjoy a successful tournament in New Zealand.

“We’ve told the group that we want them to be known as one of the fittest teams around, which means we have to work hard every day. We don’t want anyone to out-work us,” added Cunningham.

Ioan Cunningham

Cunningham is offering opportunities for new players to impress

“We want to see the shift in our fitness levels come into play in our rugby sessions. Going to Canada is like experiencing a mini-World Cup – we’ll have to get on a plane, fly to a different country, adapt quickly and get used to new training facilities.

“They will go into the game slightly more fatigued than usual, but that’s fine because the goal is to be in peak condition for the opening game against Scotland in October.

They are going to be pushed and tested and we want to see how they respond under that sort of fatigue.

“Speaking to the girls and asking them about how they are feeling they are telling us they feel a lot better, they have a lot more in them and they can run a lot harder.

“That’s pleasing to hear and we know the players are in better shape physically, their body composition has changed, they are stronger, faster.”

 

Wales squad for Canada:

Keira Bevan – Bristol Bears

Alisha Butchers – Bristol Bears

Alex Callender – Worcester Warriors

Gwen Crabb – Gloucester-Hartpury

Georgia Evans – Saracens

Kat Evans – Saracens

Abbie Fleming – Exeter Chiefs

Lleucu George – Gloucester-Hartpury

Cerys Hale – Gloucester-Hartpury

Sioned Harries – Worcester Warriors

Eloise Hayward* – Loughborough Lightning

Cara Hope – Gloucester-Hartpury

Natalia John – Gloucester-Hartpury

Manon Johnes – Bristol Bears

Hannah Jones – Gloucester-Hartpury

Kelsey Jones – Gloucester-Hartpury

Jasmine Joyce – Bristol Bears

Kerin Lake – Gloucester-Hartpury

Bethan Lewis – Gloucester-Hartpury

Caitlin Lewis – Exeter Chiefs

Ffion Lewis – Worcester Warriors

Siwan Lillicrap – Gloucester-Hartpury

Lisa Neumann – Gloucester Hartpury

Lowri Norkett* – Worcester Warriors

Carys Phillips – Worcester Warriors

Liliana Podpadec* – Llandaff North

Kayleigh Powell – Bristol Bears

Gwenllian Pyrs – Bristol Bears

Donna Rose – Saracens

Jenni Scoble* – Llandaff North

Elinor Snowsill – Bristol Bears

Niamh Terry – Worcester Warriors

Caryl Thomas – Worcester Warriors

Sisilia Tuipulotu – Gloucester-Hartpury

Meg Webb – Bristol Bears

Robyn Wilkins – Worcester Warriors

Carys Williams* – Loughborough Lightning

*uncapped