A Wales player from days of yore was told he'd been left out of the national squad via a mobile phone call from a selector who was travelling through an area with a dodgy reception.

“I just want to tell you...”

Cue fuzziness on the line.

“What? What do you want to tell me?” asks the player.

“I just want to explain...”

Line goes.

Phone rings again.

“I just want to explain about the squad.”

“You’re...”

Line goes once more.

Phone rings yet again.

“I just want to tell you you’re not in this time.”

Aaaargh!

The hope is Wayne Pivac had more luck imparting similar news to those he chose not to pick for the Six Nations.

For some of those left out might be considered unfortunate.

We look at perhaps the unluckiest among them...

Rhys Webb

Maybe this one was writ large on the dressing room wall for Rhys Webb.

The Lions Test scrum-half from 2017 started just one out of 10 games for Wales in 2020. Often, he was left out of the matchday squad completely.

That didn’t suggest he had particularly impressed the Wales coaches.

Even so, he’d been expected to be included in Pivac’s Six Nations squad. No doubt his admirers would point to his recent display against Cardiff Blues, when he outplayed Tomos Williams, or his effort against Edinburgh on the opening weekend of the season, when Webb ran the game with spellbinding confidence and authority.

But Wales haven’t seen enough to include him.

Pivac has spoken to Webb about the accuracy of his passing game and his “pace at the top end of the game”. He’s also stressed the 32-year-old isn’t out of the loop.

Let’s see how Webb responds.

Over the years at the Ospreys, he’s had the likes of Justin Marshall and Mike Phillips to compete with.

He’s never been averse to a challenge.

Kieran Hardy is in the squad along with Gareth Davies and Williams, Wales evidently believing they can do without Webb’s experience and self-belief.

Plenty will think differently.

Jamie Roberts

The best No. 12 in regional rugby this season?

It’s a proposition that’s hard to argue with.

So why isn’t he in the group Pivac has named?

Because Wales feel they have hit upon a big talent at inside centre in Johnny Williams and the 34-year-old Roberts wasn’t considered suitable for a bench role.

"For Jamie’s age, we’d want him starting,” said Pivac. “But in Johnny Williams, we’ve got a guy we think is ready. There’s also Owen Watkin and Nick Tompkins."

Roberts can console himself by reasoning he could not have done much more.

Ioan Lloyd

A promising player who stands every chance of winning a lot of caps for Wales.

For his club Bristol Bears, he’s shown flashes of sublime skill.

But is he ready for tournament rugby at Test level yet?

Pivac evidently thinks not.

Maybe the sight of the youngster finding the going tough against Italy in the Autumn Nations Cup convinced Wales’ coach the teenager is best left learning his trade at club level for the time being.

Lloyd has too much to offer to be out of the picture for long.

But the coaches will want to see evidence he’s ironed out creases in his game.

WillGriff John

Wales didn’t exactly rip up trees by the forest-full when it came to scrummaging in the autumn Tests.

Since then, they’ve seen Samson Lee placed beyond selection by injury.

It puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Tomas Francis.

He can scrummage, with Dillon Lewis and Leon Brown still developing in that area at Test level.

Might Pivac have helicoptered in one of European rugby’s strongest players, then, to bring ballast to the set-piece?

Well, he hasn’t.

In fairness, John hasn’t played play much for Sale this season. He did have a few outings over the festive period, but from here we can’t make accurate judgements over his game-readiness and fitness levels generally.

He misses out, then.

Shane Lewis-Hughes

He’s a young player who did well for Wales in adversity during the autumn.

While others were not exactly conspicuous in the Tests Pivac’s side played, the Cardiff Blue rolled up his sleeves and proved a combative presence.

But he’s lost out in selection to a player who’s been exceptional at PRO14 level this season.

Dan Lydiate has piled up a mountain of hits, often providing a lead for the Ospreys by felling big forwards. His 30-tackle display against the Scarlets on Boxing Day was a defensive masterclass that would have left some opposition players seeing Lydiate in their sleep.

Maybe the experience factor also won the 33-year-old his call.

But Lewis-Hughes is one for the future.

Rhys Priestland

It seems Wales explored the possibility of including Priestland in their plans, only to be knocked back, presumably under the rule that stops exiled players who are short of 60-caps from donning the red jersey.

Priestland appears bound for Cardiff Blues and 12 months ago Rhys Webb was granted dispensation to play for Wales after he signed for the Ospreys from Toulon.

A precedent looked to have been set.

Rhys Priestland was superb again for Bath on Friday night
Rhys Priestland has been in form for Bath

But Welsh rugby bosses have made their call on this one.

Let’s see what comes out in the wash.

For the time being, it was left for Pivac to say of Priestland, a man who knows how to run a game: “We now know we cannot use him.”

For some, Jarrod Evans’ bright display for Cardiff Blues against the Scarlets recently will cushion the fact that Priestland is off limits.

But it still seems a bit harsh on the old campaigner.

Sam Parry

A surprise here. Of the three hookers Pivac used in the autumn Tests, Parry was the most effective, playing against Italy and restoring a measure of order to the disaster area that had been the Wales lineout in previous games.

He returned to the Ospreys and not only scored two tries against Castres in Swansea but was also part of a 19-0 home lineout. Another touchdown and 10 tackles without a miss followed against Worcester the following weekend before Parry picked up an injury.

His omission is weird, then.

There are whispers that Wales like the impact Elliot Dee offers off the bench.

Selection is subjective, so the opinions of those concerned have to be respected.

But the decision to omit the Ospreys strongman still takes some working out.

Sam Parry of Wales celebrates his try with George North (left)
Sam Parry of Wales celebrates his try against Italy with George North (left)

James Botham

A straight call here between Botham and Josh Macleod, two young players with little between them.

“Josh Macleod was the original selection for the autumn and we think he’s probably that little bit further ahead than James,” explained Pivac.

The two players are good over the ball and fine defenders.

This isn’t a precise science and there are plenty who would have given the nod to Botham, with equal numbers maybe opting for Macleod.

Perhaps that bit of extra experience and maturity for Macleod swung the verdict the Scarlet’s way.

But Botham will come again.

Mat Protheroe

It’s hard to think of a more exciting player in regional rugby this season than Protheroe, a back who has pace and a step and knows how to use those attributes.

If counter-attacking rugby is your cup of tea, then you won’t see many better exponents of the art than the young lad from Swansea.

When he sets sail in open field, opponents must fear what’s about to unfold.

The rest of us just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

He’s only slightly built, but he is courageous and willing to tackle.

Maybe Pivac and his coaches decided it wasn’t time to make a bold call by drafting in the free-spirited Osprey.

So Hallam Amos gets the nod.

He’s a talent in his own right.

For Protheroe, it will have to be a game of patience.