PEMBROKESHIRE rugby star Kemsley Mathias has received his first senior Wales call-up in Warren Gatland’s 54-player preliminary training squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The uncapped prop, who came through the Scarlets Academy, has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Parc y Scarlets, and played a big role in the team reaching the semi-finals of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Hailing from Haverfordwest, the loose-head was part of the Wales U20s side that beat New Zealand in 2019, and he has made over 30 appearances in a Scarlets jersey since his debut three years ago.

The former Sir Thomas Picton School pupil was capped at Wales U18s, and featured for Scarlets A in the Celtic Cup and for Carmarthen Quins in the Welsh Premiership, before making his PRO14 debut against Cardiff in 2021.

One of the mainstays in the Scarlets’ resurgence during the second half of this season, the 23 year-old front rower capped a fine season by accepting a new contract last month to commit to the Scarlets.

“Kemsley has been outstanding for us this season, a young prop who has gone up against international front-rows week after week and more than held his own,” said Scarlets Head Coach Dwayne Peel.

“He is a player who works hard on his game and is always ready to learn. We are all excited by the potential he has.”

Meanwhile Scarlets back rower Josh Macleod, 26, a former pupil of Ysgol Bro Gwaun in Fishguard, has also been named in Warren Gatland's World Cup training squad.

And they are joined by fellow Scarlets Ken Owens, Ryan Elias, Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Sam Costelow, Johnny Williams, Leigh Halfpenny, Tom Rogers and uncapped centre Joe Roberts.

The players will start to come in for training sessions with Wales on a rolling basis from May 25, with entry into camp depending on when an individual’s club season has ended. 

In addition to sessions at the National Centre of Excellence in Hensol, Wales will travel to Switzerland and Turkey in July for specialist training camps. The squad size will be reduced ahead of each trip. 

Wales then have three Summer Series Test matches against England (home and away on August 5 and 12) and South Africa (August 19, at Principality Stadium) before the official 33-player squad to head to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France is named.

Gatland said: “We’ve picked a large squad for a number of reasons. We will reduce the squad to about 45 before we go to Switzerland so there’s a bit of jeopardy in the first part of the campaign.

“It’s a great opportunity for some players that were involved in the Six Nations and some youngsters for the future to show us what they are capable of doing in the first part of the preparation.

“In the past we’ve prided ourselves on how hard we’ve worked and how fit the squad has been. So that’s the message to the players to come in and make a statement, work really hard, make the coaches sit up and take notice and get yourself in great shape physically.

“A lot of skill work needs to be done and there’s an opportunity to work on the detail you often don’t get when you go into Six Nations or Autumn campaigns when you have limited preparation time.”

Wales preliminary training squad for Rugby World Cup 2023

Forwards (31)

Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 20 caps)
Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets – uncapped)
Nicky Smith (Ospreys – 42 caps)
Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 21 caps)
Eliott Dee (Dragons – 41 caps)
Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 33 caps)
Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 8 caps)
Ken Owens (Scarlets – 91 caps)
Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 71 caps)
Will Davies-King (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 50 caps)
Henry Thomas (Montpellier – uncapped)
Adam Beard (Ospreys – 46 caps)
Ben Carter (Dragons – 9 caps)
Rhys Davies (Ospreys – 2 caps)
Cory Hill (Yokohama Canon Eagles – 32 caps)
Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 6 cap)
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 157 caps)
Will Rowlands (Dragons – 23 caps)
Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs – 5 caps)
Teddy Williams (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
Taine Basham (Dragons – 11 caps)
Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 100 caps)
Dan Lydiate (Ospreys – 68 caps)
Josh Macleod (Scarlets – 2 caps)
Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 9 caps)
Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 9 caps)
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 93 caps)
Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 37 caps)

Backs (23)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 67 caps)
Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 17 caps)
Rhys Webb (Ospreys – 40 caps)
Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 45 caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 35 caps)
Dan Biggar (Toulon – 107 caps)
Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 2 caps)
Owen Williams (Ospreys – 7 caps)
Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
Max Llewellyn (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
George North (Ospreys – 113 caps)
Joe Roberts (Scarlets – uncapped)
Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 27 caps)
Johnny Williams (Scarlets – 5 caps)
Keiran Williams (Ospreys – uncapped)
Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 49 caps)
Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 57 caps)
Rio Dyer (Dragons – 7 caps)
Cai Evans (Ospreys – uncapped)
Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 99 caps)
Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 25 caps)
Tom Rogers (Scarlets – 2 caps)
Liam Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 84 caps)