FORMER Wales star Ian Gough has hit out at Warren Gatland’s decision to recall Cory Hill, labelling the move “demoralising” for home-based players.

Former Dragons captain Hill, who now plays in Japan, has been handed a shock recall to the Wales squad for the summer tests against South Africa and Australia.

The 32-year-old, who made more than 100 appearances for the Rodney Parade region between 2013 and 2020, has not been capped since helping Wales to win the Six Nations title in March 2021.

Hill initially moved to Japan to join the Yokohama Canon Eagles from Cardiff. In 2023 he joined fourth division team Secom Rugguts – a move which offered financial incentives but a significantly less demanding standard of rugby.

He could now be set to face the Springboks, arguably the sport’s most physical test side, at Twickenham on June 22. And Gough is not happy.

“For Cory Hill to get the red carpet back into the Wales squad grates on me,” said Gough, who won 64 caps and represented both Newport and the Dragons.

“He went to Japan for money, which is fine, but how can you pick someone who has been playing park rugby in Japan for a squad to play South Africa?

“He was a fantastic player,” added Gough. “But you should always judge on form and when was the last time he played a top-end game?

“When was the last time he was tested at any level, even a Champions Cup game or a URC quarter-final?

“I don’t agree with it, it doesn't send a good message to those players who stayed in Wales to ply their trade.

“It must be very demoralising for someone like Morgan Morris who has shown real consistency over the years and doesn’t get in.

“Perhaps there is method in the madness, but it seems like throwing a feather in the air and seeing which way the wind blows.”

Hill left Cardiff Rugby to move to Japan shortly after he was named as among a group of men who damaged a woman’s house in May 2021.

He was never charged by police, but issued an apology, and Gatland insisted they had “moved past” the incident.

Gatland said: “He has [apologised] and that was dealt with by Cardiff. For us, that time-frame has gone.

“He’s been in the [team HQ] training and we’ve had a conversation with about potentially being available through to the World Cup [in 2027].”