Robin McBryde urges Wales to hit the ground running

Robin McBrydge wants Wales to make a positive start to their tour against Eastern Province Kings on Tuesday

Wales head coach Warren Gatland

Robin McBryde has urged Wales to hit the ground running as they take on the unknown quantity Eastern Province Kings on Tuesday evening.

The warm-up match in Port Elizabeth, just four days before the first of two Tests against the Springboks, is the final chance for Wales’ fringe players to make a case for inclusion in the Test side but serves a dual role as preparing players for the short turnaround they will face at next year’s Rugby World Cup.

We expect the environment to be pretty hostile and to be challenged upfront

Robin McBryde

“The team that takes the field on Tuesday night have got a real responsibility to get the ball rolling and get us off on the right foot,” said assistant coach McBryde.

“That has not been lost on them. We have prepared as well as we can, the team have looked sharp and come kick-off time we should be in a good place.

“Everyone is fit. We had a final run out today so everyone is looking forward to it. The level has already stepped up from the trial, we have been able to work through our analysis and focus on individuals and what did and did not work.”

The Kings, coached by former All Blacks outside-half Carlos Spencer, are in training for their first crack at the Premier Division of the Currie Cup ahead of their entry into the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby championship in 2016 and the Wales coaches admit they know very little about what they’re up against.

“We attended a function with the foundation set up by [former South Africa scrum-half] Joost van der Westhuizen on Saturday and there were a few words there about the sort of welcome we are going to be facing,” McBryde added.

“We expect the environment to be pretty hostile and to be challenged upfront. But with regards to the knowledge of individual players, we do not have much but I think this game is about us and focusing on what we can do to the best of our abilities.

“There has been nothing recent for us to look at in terms of footage, so they are a bit of an unknown quantity, but sometimes that is not a bad thing because we have to focus on ourselves and getting things right from our point of view.”

Warren Gatland has named a largely second-string XV, captained by Racing Metro flanker Dan Lydiate, with a number of rising stars including Scarlets wing Jordan Williams, Ospreys number 8 Dan Baker and Ospreys outside-half Matthew Morgan—starting at full-back—given the chance to prove they can step up to the levels required for Test rugby.

As well as Lydiate, who is captaining for the first time, the Welsh youngsters will be able to find experience in Ospreys lock Ian Evans, Gloucester outside-half James Hook and Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert who all start.

There are also serious reinforcements on the bench in the shape of Northampton Saints wing George North—who won the Aviva Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup last month—and Scarlets full-back Liam Williams, who impressed during the Six Nations.

“We know this will be a step up again but that trial game definitely served its purpose,” McBryde said. “As to how well it served its purpose, we will see. But I thought it was good for us to be prepared and go through our moves and structures.

“This is another chance for the players, those involved have a real chance to stake a claim for a Test place on Saturday. We have benefited from that before and we want that again.”

Eastern Province Kings: Hansie Greeff; Siviwe Soyizwapi, Ronnie Cooke, Shane Gates, Scott van Breda; George Whitehead, Kevin Luiters; Lizo Gqoboka, Edgar Marutlulle, Charl du Plessis, Darron Nell (captain), Cameron Lindsay, Thembelani Bholi, Devin Oosthuizen, Paul Schoeman.

Replacements: Albe de Swardt, BG Uys, Simon Kerrod, Steven Cummins, Stefan Willemse, Jaco Grobler, Dwayne Jenner, Ntabeni Dukisa.

Wales: Matthew Morgan (Bristol); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Steven Shingler (Scarlets), Jordan Williams (Scarlets); James Hook (Gloucester Rugby), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets); Paul James (Bath Rugby), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro, captain), Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues), Dan Baker (Ospreys).

Replacements: Matthew Rees (Cardiff Blues), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys) Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro) Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

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