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Wales' RWC pool opponents England set final squad

Sam Burgess will play for England in the Rugby World Cup less than a year after switching codes. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.

Wales' Rugby World Cup pool opponents England have announced their final 31-man squad for the tournament.

Stuart Lancaster's side includes Rugby League convert Sam Burgess, who's only been playing under the union code for less than a year. Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter are among those not making the cut.

Wales and England are in Pool A along with Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

Read more on this story on ITV's dedicated Rugby World Cup site.

Alun Wyn Jones to captain Wales as North wins 50th cap

Credit: WRU

Alun Wyn Jones takes on the captain's arm band and George North gets his 50th cap as Wales prepare to face Ireland on Saturday.

Wales team: Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), George North (Northampton Saints), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, CAPT), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons). Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Paul James (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), James King (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons).

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Are Wales tough enough for the World Cup?

Jonathan Davies believes mental toughness must be prominent in Wales' armoury if they are to emerge from the so-called World Cup pool of death.

Arguably the toughest World Cup group in the tournament's 28-year history will begin unfolding next month, with Wales, host nation England and twice-world champions Australia among those battling for two quarter-final places.

Watch: Flat battery or a tough workout?

You have got to go in thinking you are going to play every game because I don't think the back-up players are pushing enough, which maybe is the one weakness in the Welsh game.

– Jonathan Davies

Wales boss Gatland will name his final 31-man World Cup squad at the Millennium Stadium next Monday.

Wales international Ryan Jones announces retirement

Credit: Andrew Matthews/EMPICS Sport

Wales star Ryan Jones has announced his retirement from professional rugby 'with immediate effect'.

The former captain gained 75 caps for his country and won three Grand Slams.

His full statement:

The old cliché of making the decision with a heavy heart is true on this occasion. The last few weeks have been emotionally tough for me. I’ve had to recognise, and come to terms with, the fact that while the mind is still very willing, the body is no longer able to do what I want it to on a rugby pitch.

After sustaining a shoulder injury in May and subsequently undergoing surgery to repair the damage, it became clear that I could no longer carry on, leaving me with little option other than to call time on what has been an incredible personal journey.

Rugby has been a huge part of my life for the last decade and a half; not just as my job but as a passionate hobby also. There is no doubt that no longer working all week towards a big match at the weekend will leave a huge gap in my life that a few rounds of golf won’t fill!

Looking back on my career, I can say that I have enjoyed some fantastic highs and, although there were some well documented lows along the way, the overriding feeling is one of immense pride and satisfaction. If someone had told me 20 years ago that I was going to achieve and experience a fraction of what I have then I would have been over the moon.

Throughout my career I’ve been extremely fortunate to be a part of some fantastic teams, for club and country, and to play in front of the best fans in the world in some of the best sports stadiums. I’ve met countless wonderful people on and off the field, and shared dressing rooms with all-time legends of the game – many of whom I can now call personal friends. Not bad for a late starter at Risca Youth!

Highlights of my career obviously include three Grand Slams with Wales and four league titles with the Ospreys, but I can’t take a final bow without referencing the stand-off against the Haka in 2008. It was absolute theatre and although I never got to beat the All Blacks, I think we can claim that victory at least.

Make no mistake about it, rugby is in my DNA, and will continue to be a big part of my life for many years to come, albeit without the physical slog I’ve become used to over the years.

Over the coming months though, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife, Ailsa, and our young family, who have sacrificed so much to allow me to fulfill my dreams. Ailsa has been a constant rock by my side, always keeping me grounded during the ups and giving me the support I’ve needed during the downs. For that, I’ll always be extremely grateful.

It goes without saying that I am forever indebted to my parents and sister for everything they’ve done for me from day one. The sacrifices they’ve made, the encouragement they’ve given me, and the satisfaction they’ve taken from watching me succeed in rugby has been incredible and without them the Ryan Jones story would never have got started.

A lot of what I’ve actually achieved in my career hasn’t just been my dream. It’s been my mates dream, my family’s dream, it’s everyone’s dream, and so sharing it with them has been special.

My one regret is that my youngest daughter will never get to see me play rugby, will never get to walk out onto the pitch in front of a big crowd with me. However, rugby has provided me with many tales I can bore her, and her brother and sister, to tears with for many, many years to come!

One thing that every sportsman has to face up to is retirement, it’s the only inevitable thing about a sporting career. Over the last 18 months I’ve been preparing for that transition, upskilling myself ready to face the next challenge in the commercial world.

You can never fill the void in your everyday life when you hang up your boots. There’s life after rugby, of course there is. When you are 22 or 23 you don’t realise that, and before you know it, you are no longer the kid with potential, you are a grey haired thirty-something who is a long time retired. That’s me today, and what I can do, is ensure I tackle the next chapter in the same way I got stuck into my rugby, and give it absolutely everything.

For now, I look forward to enjoying the Rugby World Cup as a Welsh supporter, knowing from my own personal experiences in 2011 that it is the biggest spectacle in the sport.”

– Ryan Jones, former Wales captain
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