British Lion Dwayne Peel has been left out of the Wales squad for this season's RBS 6 Nations.
The Sale Sharks scrum-half, who has won more than 60 caps, misses out on a place in coach Warren Gatland’s 28-man group.
Gatland has named two specialist scrum-halves in Gareth Cooper and Mike Phillips, who returns to Wales duty after missing the entire autumn Test series through injury.
Gatland has trimmed his squad from the one required last November, and Peel is joined by Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard in failing to make the cut, along with Morgan Stoddart, Dan Biggar, Martin Roberts and Eifion Roberts.
Ospreys lock Ian Evans, meanwhile, is sidelined through injury for the rest of this season, so there is a call-up for 22-year-old Cardiff Blues Heineken Cup hero Bradley Davies, while prop Duncan Jones is another injury absentee.
Davies, the solitary uncapped player in Gatland’s party, scored Blues’ winning try against Gloucester at Kingsholm yesterday that secured a quarter-final place.
Wales, the reigning Six Nations champions, are strengthened by the return of 2008 Grand Slam heroes like fit-again Ospreys trio Phillips, Gavin Henson and Jonathan Thomas.
Ospreys full-back Lee Byrne is named, despite suffering an ankle injury and limping off against Heineken Cup opponents Perpignan on Saturday, and recent appendicitis victim Mark Jones also makes it.
But Peel’s omission is a major surprise, and could seriously dent his chances of making a second successive Lions tour after claiming the Test number jersey in New Zealand in 2005.
Gatland said: “There are a few important players back from injury.
“Huw Bennett is back with us, and the likes of Mike Phillips, Gavin Henson and Jonathan Thomas have been unavailable to us for some time now, so we think they are going to really strengthen the squad.
“We had a very hard decision to make at scrum-half, but were greatly impressed by the performances of Mike Phillips last year during the Six Nations and felt Gareth Cooper has done well, both on tour in the summer and in the autumn series.
“It’s a decision that we debated long and hard, and the result is really difficult.
“It probably boiled down to the fact that Mike Phillips has played more rugby than Dwayne Peel since the autumn, but it doesn’t mean that the door is always going to be shut for him or anyone.
“We’ve tried to keep the squad relatively similar to the last Six Nations campaign.
“Part of that philosophy is to keep everything nice and tight and everyone in the squad feeling there is an opportunity to play for Wales, and also make it difficult for people to come into the squad – make players really earn the right.”
Wales squad for RBS 6 Nations Championship
L Byrne (Ospreys), M Jones (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), A Bishop (Ospreys), G Henson (Ospreys), J Hook (Ospreys), S Jones (Scarlets), G Cooper (Gloucester), M Phillips (Ospreys).
G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), A Jones (Ospreys), R Thomas (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Rees (Scarlets), H Bennett (Ospreys), I Gough (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt), J Thomas (Ospreys), D Jones (Scarlets), A Powell (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff Blues).