WARREN Gatland says Wales have a big decision to make on Cory Hill after a scan revealed the Dragons captain has a small fracture that will rule him out of the opening rounds of the World Cup.

The lock has not featured this summer because of an issue with his left ankle, the same foot that he injured against England in the Six Nations.

The 27-year-old has not played since scoring the key try in that clash in February.

Gatland said on Thursday that the Dragons skipper will be heading to Japan as long as he is fit: “He has been very important for us over the last couple of years and has captained the side as well.

“He's got important leadership skills and is very good in the lineout.”

However, Hill’s injury is not progressing as fast as Wales would like and they may have to gamble on taking the lock even though he will miss the tournament opener against Georgia and key group game against Australia.

South Wales Argus: Cory Hill (pictured) and Ellis Jenkins will lead Wales out (Paul Harding/PA)

“Our big discussion tonight is with Cory Hill, he has got a fracture in his leg,” said Gatland after the 22-17 loss to Ireland.

“We scanned it yesterday just to really be sure, it’s a very small fracture which will could keep him out until game two or game three.

“That will be a big discussion point about where we take him or not.”

Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard and Jake Ball look certain to be selected, leaving Gatland to decide between Bradley Davies and Hill, with blindside Aaron Shingler potentially covering the second row.

Ball has enjoyed a strong summer to climb the pecking order, leaving Hill with work to do if he gets the nod for Japan.

Dragons number eight Ross Moriarty was a late withdrawal from the game against Ireland with a minor hip problem but will be named in the 31 for Japan.

Gatland will reveal his final squad at 2pm tomorrow and handed chances to fringe players in the first of their Ireland double-header.

“It was a good exercise,” said Gatland, after his side rallied from 22-3 down. “Some people put up their hand and had a good showing and with others we had a few questions answered.

“A lot of players had their first starts, which was tough. We were disappointed with the result but happy with a lot of aspects. One thing about this group of players is that they never give up.

"There are probably half a dozen positions that are really up for debate. Apart from that we are comfortable with 24 or 25."