Warren Gatland confirms Wales trial before South Africa tour

Wales head coach Warren Gatland confirms the Red Dragon will hold a trial match at the end of the month

By Gareth Llewellyn
Wales head coach Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland has confirmed that Wales will hold a trial match at the end of the month ahead of this summer’s tour of South Africa.

Wales assistant coaches Rob Howley and Robin McBryde—who both played in the last Wales trial in 2000 at St Helens—will lead the coaching teams for the Probables and Possibles, respectively, and will announce their squads next Tuesday.

The trial will enable us to work with the extended squad and see those players in our environment as preparations ramp up for next year’s World Cup

Warren Gatland

The first encounter of its kind for 14 years will take place in front of spectators at the Liberty Stadium, home of the Ospreys, on Friday May 30 with players given the chance to secure a place in Gatland’s 31-man squad.

“It’s great that we are able to resurrect the famous Wales trial,” Gatland said.

“It’s a good opportunity for the players but it’s also important for us in our short-term as well as long term preparation.

“The trial will enable us to work with the extended squad and see those players in our environment as preparations ramp up for next year’s World Cup.”

With the Ospreys failing to reach the RaboDirect Pro12 play-off, Gatland has concerns that his players could go into the tour cold with the majority of South African players playing in Super Rugby up to the international window.

The Kiwi also faces a number of selection headaches with key players—including captain Sam Warburton, full-back Leigh Halfpenny and hooker Richard Hibbard—out injured and questions to be answered in the front row and at half-back.

“The tour itself is going to be extremely tough and the game will be important in ensuring we don’t head into it cold,” Gatland added.

“The majority of the squad would not have played for four or five weeks and we need to hit the ground running.

“The Springboks are immersed in Super Rugby right up to the tour and then have a game against a World XV the week before the first test so they certainly won’t be under cooked.”

Both squads will prepare for the clash separately with Howley joined by fellow Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards and Bristol-bound Scarlets forwards coach Danny Wilson, while McBryde will be joined by Wales kicking skills coach Neil Jenkins and Cardiff Blues defence coach Dale McIntosh.

Such is the tight schedule before Wales depart, the squad will be announced by Gatland at the match’s post-match media conference.

“It’s a chance for players to experience the set-up and round off a week’s training with us in a meaningful match and hopefully put their hand up for this summer’s tour,” said Gatland.

“We will be announcing the squad to travel to South Africa after the game so it’s a great opportunity for players to book their seat on the plane.”

Tickets for the rare clash will go on sale on Tuesday 13 May with any profits, together with a modest donation, going to the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust.


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