Gloucester wing Rees-Zammit, Dragons prop Brown and Cardiff prop Lewis have all been named in Gatland’s first Wales squad back in charge despite struggling with niggling injuries.
Gatland has named a 37-man squad to as he prepares for his first game back in charge since the Bronze Final at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. That was against New Zealand and he kicks-off his second period in chare against the number one ranked side in the world, Ireland, at Principality Stadium on 4 February.
The New Zealander, who masterminded four Six Nations titles and three Grand Slams, expects British & Irish Lions wing Rees-Zammit to be available for the England game in Cardiff in Round three next month.
“We are hoping Louis will be available for the England game. He has been named in the squad and we have a few other players who potentially might be available later on in the Six Nations,” said Gatland.
“He was the one we did name because we wanted to have the ability to give him some treatment and to work with a new attack coach. The indications are he should be up and running for the England game.”
“Leon is back in full training now,” said Gatland. “Dillon is not to far away, whether he plays or comes fully training with us. Those are two players we need to get up to speed as quickly as we can. All the indications are they will be fit and ready to go from day one.”
The Wales coach also revealed his thought behind Ospreys duo Owen Williams and Rhys Webb who return to the national set-up now they are back playing regional rugby.
“We have picked Owen as a No 10. I thought the Ospreys game against Montpellier was a proper game. That’s the level at which you want regionals teams to be playing and competing at.
“I thought the previous week against Leinster they were a bit unlucky, but they put themselves in a position to win, which was encouraging
“I thought Owen’s performance at No 10 was outstanding. You couldn’t ignore with the way he played, how he controlled the game and the experience he has – it was an easy selection for us.”
Webb is one of three scrum-halves named in the squad, along with Cardiff’s Tomos Williams and Scarlets Kieran Hardy .
“The nines that we have picked are probably our best kicking nines. In this competition you need nines whose box-kicking is on the money,” added Gatland.
“Rhys will come in and put pressure on the other two scrum halves, which I see as a positive, and will bring his experience with him. He has been playing well.
“But it is the kicking ability of the three No 9s that is important in this competition. You have to be on the mark to be able to apply pressure via your kicking strategy.”