Gavin Henson in Probables squad for Wales trial
Bath star Gavin Henson could be in line for a shock Wales return after being named in Probables squad
Wales have named 52 players to prepare for the Wales Senior Trial on 30 May ahead of their summer tour of South Africa.
The two 26-man squads will face off at the Ospreys’ Liberty Stadium home as head coach Warren Gatland navigates a growing injury list to get a final look at the players who could make his 35-man squad for the two Tests against the Springboks in June.
It [Henson selection] is not a big talking point, he hasn’t been selected since 2011 but he’s got a good chance of going to South Africa as he’s in the 52
Led by assistant coach Rob Howley, the Probables will be captained by Alun Wyn Jones—already pencilled in as tour captain in the absence of Sam Warburton—and boasts 19 players from this year’s Six Nations.
There are just two uncapped players in Ospreys outside-half/full-back Sam Davies playing back-up to regional team-mate Dan Biggar and Newport Gwent Dragons loosehead prop Owen Evans as cover for Cardiff Blues star Gethin Jenkins.
Howley has also named flanker Josh Navidi—a member of last summer’s ill-fated tour to Japan and tipped to challenge for a starting berth after a promising season with th.
Bath’s Gavin Henson is also among the 52-strong party after enjoying a good run of form towards the end of the Aviva Premiership season and could make a shock return from the international wilderness.
“The trial is a great platform for us to see all of these players up close and allow them to pit themselves against each other,” said Howley, who played in the last Wales trial 14 years ago.
“It takes us back to the traditional Wales trials of old and gives players and opportunity to put their hand up for the Wales jersey.
“Both sides will be going hard against each other with players having a point to prove.
“It’s also a vital game in our preparation ahead of the tour to South Africa. The vast majority of the squad wouldn’t have had any game time after last weekend and this allows us to have a meaningful match.”
The Possibles squad, led by Robin McBryde and captained by Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees, features 10 uncapped players alongside numerous internationals looking to force their way back into contention.
Bath loosehead prop Paul James, Ospreys lock Ian Evans and Perpignan utility back James Hook are among the experienced names looking to put their hand up.
The squad also includes uncapped Leicester Tigers outside-half Owen Williams after his impressive season guiding them to the semi-finals with Scarlets scrum-half Gareth Davies—the RaboDirect Pro12’s top try-scorer, and Scarlets winger Jordan Williams and Ospreys number 8 Dan Baker—two of the best young players in Wales this season—also getting a chance to stake their case for inclusion.
“It’s an important opportunity to see these players in our environment, using our language and styles,” said McBryde.
“The door is always open in international rugby and it will be good to see the squads for the week leading up to the game and in a game that has a lot of pressure attached as trials always do.
“It’s a chance to see players go head to head for the jersey and it should be a great contest.
“It’s great to have Matthew [Rees] back in the set-up. It’s no coincidence his return has resulted in an upturn in form for the Blues. He brings great leadership qualities and after the year he has had its great to see him playing so well.”
Forwards: Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Owen Evans (Newport Gwent Dragons), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys; captain), Luke Charteris (USAP Perpignan), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Ryan Jones (Bristol), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Blues), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Taulupe Faletau (Dragons).
Backs: Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Jon Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Gavin Henson (Bath), Alex Cuthbert (Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Hallam Amos (Dragons), Liam Williams (Scarlets).
Forwards: Paul James (Bath), Phil Price (Dragons), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Matthew Rees (Blues), Kristian Dacey (Blues), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Scott Andrews (Blues), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Macauley Cook (Blues), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), James Davies (Scarlets), Dan Baker (Ospreys).
Backs: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Lloyd Williams (Blues), James Hook (Perpignan), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys), Harry Robinson (Blues), Owen Williams (Leicester), Steven Shingler (Scarlets), Cory Allen (Blues), Jonathan Spratt (Ospreys), Tom Prydie (Dragons), Jordan Williams (Scarlets).