James Hook, Mike Philipps and Richard Hibbard cut from Wales squad

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High-profile trio James Hook, Mike Phillips and Richard Hibbard have been cut from Wales' World Cup training squad.

The Welsh Rugby Union announced that eight players will return to their respective regions and clubs, with fly-half Hook, scrum-half Phillips and hooker Hibbard - they have 209 caps between them - being joined by Jack Dixon, Rhys Patchell, Nicky Smith, Rory Thornton and Dan Baker.

A total of 38 players will return to the WRU National Centre of Excellence on Monday to continue World Cup preparations.

Hook and Phillips delivered ineffective displays in Wales' opening World Cup warm-up game against Ireland last Saturday and were replaced early in the second-half of a 35-21 Millennium Stadium defeat.

Hibbard's exit, though, is a surprise. He made the British & Irish Lions Test team in Australia two years ago but he now misses out, with fellow hookers Scott Baldwin, Ken Owens and Kristian Dacey retained.

"It has been a difficult task reducing the squad down and deciding who will meet up with us again on Monday," Wales head coach Warren Gatland said.

"All the players involved over the past eight weeks have put a huge amount of effort in. The intensity and dedication from the players out in Switzerland and Qatar has been really impressive.

"That makes our job a lot harder, but as we continue to move into our rugby-focused phase of training, it's important we reduce the squad number down.

"There will be disappointment from the players, but it's important to stress that the door is not closed. We name our final Rugby World Cup squad on August 31, and a lot can happen between now and then.

"As a squad we will now meet up again on Monday to continuing preparing for Ireland away, which is just over a fortnight away."

Gloucester star Hook has been largely a fringe Wales player since the last World Cup in New Zealand four years ago, but his versatility as a fly-half, centre and full-back led many to believe he would feature in the final selection picture.

Phillips, meanwhile, now finds himself behind Rhys Webb, Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams in the scrum-half pecking order, and at the age of 32 with 94 Wales caps, it might be that he has played his last game in the red shirt.

Players who remain in the training squad include wing Eli Walker, centre Tyler Morgan, lock Dominic Day and flanker Ross Moriarty, who all made their Test debuts against Ireland five days ago.

And with Baker gone, it increases considerably the possibility of Gloucester forward Moriarty, whose father Paul and uncle Richard both played for Wales at the 1987 World Cup, providing flanker and number eight options in Gatland's final squad.

Wales World Cup training squad:

Backs: G Davies (Scarlets), R Webb (Ospreys), L Williams, G Anscombe (both Cardiff Blues), D Biggar (Ospreys), R Priestland (Scarlets), C Allen (Cardiff Blues), T Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Roberts (Harlequins), S Williams (Scarlets), H Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), L Halfpenny (Toulon), M Morgan (Bristol), G North (Northampton), E Walker (Ospreys), L Williams (Scarlets).

Forwards: S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), R Evans (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), P James, A Jarvis (both Ospreys), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), S Lee (Scarlets), S Baldwin (Ospreys), K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), K Owens, J Ball (both Scarlets), L Charteris (Racing Metro), B Davies (Wasps), D Day (Bath), A-W Jones (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), J King, D Lydiate (both Ospreys), R Moriarty (Gloucester), J Tipuric (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues).