Wales name Probables and Possible sides for trial match
Rob Howley and Robin McBryde name their teams for Wales' trials ahead of South Africa tour this summer
Rob Howley and Robin McBryde have named their teams for what should be a ferocious battle to win a place on the Wales tour of South Africa this summer.
The first national trial between the ‘Probables’ and ‘Possibles’ in more than a decade is the last chance for the 46 players to make the 31-man squad which will be named after the match.
Friday is a huge opportunity for players and a chance for us to see them go up against each other for the Wales jersey
Wales head coach Warren Gatland will not get a chance to run the rule over England-based players after clubs refused to release players, leaving Bath duo Paul James and Gavin Henson, and Leicester Tigers outside-half Owen Williams frozen out, while a growing injury list to key players as provided further opportunities to look at a new wave of potential internationals.
Howley and McBryde also have to do without Northampton Saints winger George North because of his involvement in the Premiership final a day later, but the Wales and British and Irish Lions star is guaranteed a place in the squad if he comes through that match unscathed.
A strong Probables line-up has a solitary uncapped player in the starting line-up in Scarlets winger Jordan Williams, who links up with Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert and Scarlets full-back Liam Williams in the back three.
British and Irish Lions duo Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies provide a familiar looking midfield with RaboDirect Pro12 player of the year Dan Biggar starting at outside-half alongside Mike Phillips, a combination which led Wales to Six Nations Grand Slam success in 2013.
An experienced front row boasting 223 international caps sees the Blues’ Gethin Jenkins and Ospreys’ Adam Jones take their familiar places at prop with Scarlets hooker Ken Owens in between them expected to be first choice on the tour with Richard Hibbard recovering from shoulder surgery.
Alun Wyn Jones captains the side from the second row with Peripgnan’s Luke Charteris beside him with Scarlets flankers Josh Turnbull and Aaron Shingler getting a chance to stake a claim of selection as Warren Gatland looks to fill the sizeable hole created by injuries to Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric.
Newport Gwent Dragons powerhouse Taulupe Faletau takes up his familiar role at number 8.
“Friday is a huge opportunity for players and a chance for us to see them go up against each other for the Wales jersey,” said Howley, who featured in the last Wales trial 14 years ago.
“It’s something we haven’t been able to do for the last decade, but it will be a big night for the players, we want to see them in a pressured environment and that’s what we will get on Friday.”
Reportedly Gloucester-bound, Perignan utility-back James Hook will get the chance to stake his claim for a starting place after being named at outside-half for the Possibles side alongside Scarlets scrum-half Gareth Davies, the Pro12’s leading try scorer this season.
Cardiff Blues full-back Dan Fish gets a chance to showcase his talent with Scarlets wing Kristian Phillips and Scarlets-bound Blues wing Harry Robinson joining him in the back three.
The midfield sees the Blues’ talented centre Cory Allen team up with Steven Shingler, who will come up against his brother Aaron.
McBryde had named two uncapped players in the pack in the form of Scarlets prop Rob Evans and former Wales U20 skipper Ellis Jenkins at flanker.
Evans is joined in the front row by regional colleague Rhodri Jones and experienced former Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees, who captains the side.
Jake Ball, who impressed as he took his first steps as a Welsh international in this year’s Six Nations, gets a start in the second row alongside Toulon-bound Ospreys lock Ian Evans.
Dragons flanker Andrew Coombs gets a chance to impress from the blindside with Jenkins at openside and Ospreys rising star Dan Baker at number 8.
“It’s been great to have the squad together, we only have a short time to prepare, but we are up for the challenge and excited by it,” said McBryde.
“We have always said that the door is always open in international rugby and this is an opportunity that doesn’t come round very often and the players know it’s their chance to impress on a big public stage in front of all the coaches.”
Squad for the Wales Senior Trial on 30 May at Liberty Stadium
Probables: Liam Williams (Scarlets); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), Jordan Williams (Scarlets); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro); Gethin Jenkins (Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, captain), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Lewis Evans (Dragons), Josh Navidi (Blues); Rhodri Williams (Scarlets), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Dafydd Hewitt (Blues).
Possibles: Dan Fish (Blues); Kristian Phillips (Scarlets), Cory Allen (Blues), Steven Shingler (Scarlets), Harry Robinson (Blues); James Hook (Perpignan), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Matthew Rees (Blues, captain), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Ellis Jenkins (Blues), Dan Baker (Ospreys).
Replacements: Kristian Dacey (Blues), Owen Evans (Dragons), Scott Andrews (Blues), Macauley Cook (Blues), James Davies (Scarlets), Lloyd Williams (Blues), Matthew Morgan (Ospreys), Jonathan Spratt (Ospreys).