Six Nations 2015: Ken Owens and Tomas Francis added to Wales squad
Warren Gatland adds hooker and tighthead prop options ahead of crucial matches against Ireland and Italy
Wales have added forwards Ken Owens and Tomas Francis to their training squad for final two rounds of the RBS 6 Nations.
Scarlets captain and hooker Owens has missed a large part of the current season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but has returned to the Scarlets front row and has been called up for his experience and leadership skills.
It’s a case of trying to get the best players playing for us, and we see a lot of potential in this lad.
Shaun Edwards on Exeter Chiefs prop Tomas Francis
Exeter Chiefs tighthead prop Francis (pictured above) is a relative unknown for many in Wales, having grown up in Yorkshire and working his way through the Greene King IPA Championship with Doncaster Knights and London Scottish before stepping up to the Aviva Premiership this season.
The 22-year-old qualifies for Wales through his grandmother Eirlys Walters from Abercrave – the same Powys village that is the birthplace of veteran tighthead prop Adam Jones, who recently announced his international retirement after failing to make the Six Nations squad – and joins the squad to allow the Wales coaches to get a better look at him.
Assistant coach Shaun Edwards believes 21-stone Francis has a lot of potential after seeing him perform well for the Chiefs, who are going well in their hunt for a place in the Premiership play-offs.
“His scrummaging is outstanding, but he is also a skilful player as well,” Edwards said.
“Francis is a big kid, and I have seen him play. The scrum at Exeter has been going excellently recently, so we have brought him in.
“He is a young man who is coming from a great environment at Exeter which prides itself on hard work, and we would like to think we are a similar sort of environment.
“It’s a case of trying to get the best players playing for us, and we see a lot of potential in this lad.”
Despite losing their opening Six Nations game to England, Wales still are still in the hunt for the Six Nations title with back-to-back wins over Scotland and France.
But they face another tough examination this weekend with reigning champions Ireland visiting Cardiff.
Joe Schmidt has led the green machine to 10 consecutive wins, including impressive displays against South Africa, Australia and England.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland names his team to play Ireland on Tuesday morning.