Wales head coach Warren Gatland has not named a captain as part of his 33-man squad for their autumn international fixtures against Australia, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand.
Ospreys forward Ryan Jones was handed the captaincy by Gatland upon the Kiwi’s arrival in 2007 but he has struggled for form over the last two seasons and he only made his first start of the current campaign against London Irish on Friday.
Jones played at lock, as opposed to his usual position of number eight, in that Heineken Cup clash and he has lost the captaincy at regional level to Alun-Wyn Jones.
And Gatland, who it was announced earlier today has signed a four-year contract extension with the WRU, will not pick a leader for his side until he names his starting line-up for their opening November engagement against Australia on November 6.
Gatland said: “We will assess form and pick our team and then name the captain, it has to be in that order, but there is little to suggest to us that it will not be Ryan again, he needs a little more game time, but we are more than happy with what he offers in a leadership capacity.”
The Kiwi has been boosted by the return of several experienced players for next month’s testing assignments, which he has described as “a tipping point” for his side ahead of next season’s World Cup.
Ospreys trio Shane Williams, James Hook and Richard Hibbard and Cardiff Blues quartet Gethin Jenkins, Tom Shanklin, Sam Warburton and Martyn Williams are all in the squad having missed the summer tour to New Zealand.
However, Blues centre Jamie Roberts misses out after undergoing surgery on a wrist injury.
Wasps back-rower Andy Powell is included after missing that trip through injury, with Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate also recalled.
However, there is no place for Sale scrum-half Dwayne Peel or Dragons lock Luke Charteris.
There are two new caps in the squad in the form of Cardiff Blues prop Scott Andrews and 18-year-old Scarlets wing George North, who has made an impressive start to he new Magners League season.
Gatland added: “It has been good to see some of our senior players who we missed out on the summer tour back and fully fit for their regions who have acquitted themselves reasonably well in Europe.
“And to be able to select a fully fit Shane Williams, James Hook or Gethin Jenkins is a big lift for us.
“Scott Andrews has been doing well technically, physically he is in good shape. We have had our eye on him at the Blues and he has been in and around the squad for a while.
“George North is only young but really set the start of the season on fire with his form. He is a big physical player, last time I saw a pair of thighs like that was on some of the Samoans back in New Zealand.
“He’s carrying an injury at the moment but hopefully he’ll be back in the next few weeks and will benefit from the experience of being around the national squad.”
Wales squad for autumn internationals against Australia, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand:
G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Paul James (Ospreys), A Rhys Jones (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), H Bennett (Ospreys), R Hibbard (Ospreys), A Wyn Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), D Jones (Cardiff Blues), I Gough (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Thomas (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R McCusker (Scarlets).
M Phillips (Ospreys), R Rees (Cardiff Blues), T Knoyle (Scarlets), S Jones (Scarlets), D Biggar (Ospreys), J Hook (Ospreys), A Bishop (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), W Harries (Newport Gwent Dragons), G North (Scarlets), L Byrne (Ospreys), T Prydie (Ospreys).