If any of Warren Gatland's Wales players believe they are too established to be snubbed when Gatland names his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad tomorrow, then they do not know his own history. Because he has been there.

In 1991, Gatland looked a certainty for the New Zealand party, having been Sean Fitzpatrick's ­deputy for 20 Tests in succession.

Yet when joint head coaches Alex Wyllie and John Hart read out their squad, Graham Dowd, a converted prop, was on his way to England, and Gatland was left in Hamilton. "So, I know first hand what it's like to miss out," he said.

"It was tough, I'd been involved with the All Blacks [for four seasons] and had just come back from an undefeated tour of Argentina on which I'd played … and I watched the squad being named live on TV without me in it.


"Yeah, I'll know how some will feel and that's the hardest part of this job."

The Welsh players have been given a choice on how they would like to receive the news – text, phone call, WhatsApp message or email – before it is officially announced on the Welsh Rugby Union website. Jarrod Evans has opted for a text, although when he heard that only the players in the extended squad who have not been selected would be contacted he vowed to "turn off my mobile".

Because of the ACL injury picked up by first-choice Gareth Anscombe against England recently, Evans has a straight shoot-out with Rhys Patchell for the honour of joining Dan Biggar on the plane, with Gatland taking only two outside halves.

Gatland could not sign off with a victory in his final home match in Cardiff, with his side losing 22-17 to Ireland, but insisted that Wales will head out to the World Cup in Japan as the best squad of his 12-year tenure with designs on the knockout stages.

In his pre-match interview with broadcasters Channel 4, Gatland admitted to becoming overcome with emotion at the team hotel prior before making the short journey to the Principality Stadium. He saluted an "incredible ride and incredible journey with players and management", also paying tribute to the country of Wales.