Six Nations 2012: Wales recognise their roots ahead of Ireland opener
The Wales squad have paid homage to where their careers began in a special team photo ahead of their tie against Ireland
The Wales squad have paid tribute to the Premiership clubs which helped kick-start their careers ahead of their Six Nations opener against Ireland on Sunday.
Head coach Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad posed for a photograph each wearing the club kit they wore at the start of their rugby careers ahead of the trip to Dublin.
Every member of Gatland’s squad, which has just returned from a pre-tournament training camp in Poland, has featured in Wales’ top club rugby competition for at least one club and each of the players were asked to nominate the side they felt most synonymous with.
Llanelli RFC boasted the biggest representation in the current squad, with the potential to almost field an entire backline of internationals, with a total of 10 players, including four uncapped.
The next highest representation is from Wales’ capital club, Cardiff, with five internationals, plus the uncapped winger Harry Robinson.
Meanwhile, Neath have provided five players in the current squad and Aberavon, Bridgend, Glamorgan Wanderers, Pontypridd and Swansea have all sent two players each from grass roots to international stardom – with the Wanderers providing squad captain Sam Warburton.
Elsewhere, single but vital contributions came from Cross Keys, Ebbw Vale, Llandovery and Newport.
“Welsh rugby must never forget its roots,” said WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis.
“Our premiership clubs are the foundation stones upon which the international game is built. This picture is a wonderful way of expressing how important the Principality Premiership is to Welsh rugby.
“The fact every member of the current squad has worked their way up through the pathway structure we have in place to develop players is something we should all be proud of.
“All the boys are extremely proud of their rugby heritage and they were very enthusiastic about taking part in this photograph.”
Wales’ Six Nations squad pictured representing the following clubs:
Justin Tipuric and Ashley Beck (Aberavon); Ryan Bevington, Ryan Jones and Rhys Webb (Bridgend); Alex Cutherbert, Bradley Davies, Rhys Gill, Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts and Harry Robinson (Cardiff); Ken Owens (Carmarthen Quins); Toby Faletau (Cross Keys); Dan Lydiate (Ebbw Vale); Sam Warburton and Lloyd Williams (Glamorgan Warriors); George North (Llandovery); Lee Bryne, Jonathan Davies, Rhodri Jones, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips, Rhys Priestland, Lou Reed, Aaron Shingler, Liam Williams and Scott Williams (Llanelli); Ian Evans, James Hook, Paul James, Adam Jones and Craig Mitchell (Neath); Andy Powell (Newport); Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees (Pontypridd); Huw Bennett and Gavin Henson (Swansea).