Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named two uncapped players in his squad for their upcoming Test series with South Africa in July.
Leicester Tigers flanker Tommy Reffell and Cardiff back-row James Ratti are the two new faces in the squad which will be skippered by Dan Biggar.
Elsewhere, George North and Dan Lydiate return to the Test fold after extended spells out with injury. Ospreys’ teammate Sam Parry is also named.
Two games at altitude
“We’ve had some players come back from injury like George North so that’s exciting for the squad. Some players have been ruled out through injury, so there’s naturally going to be change there. Then we’ve looked at players’ form, who we are playing, where we’re playing – we have two games at altitude – and what our gameplan will be when considering selection,” Pivac said about his squad.
“I spoke to Tommy Reffell before we announced the squad for the Six Nations. We looked hard at Tommy and decided to leave him out then. He’s played very well since, he’s been very consistent – one of the most consistent players in the English Premiership so we feel that he deserves an opportunity and he will be well tested on this tour.
“This three Test series is going to be a challenge. It always has been, history shows that and certainly that’s what we’re looking to achieve – to get a victory there if not two and win a series. The first two Tests at altitude are going to be a challenge, so first and foremost we’ve got to do a lot of preparation here in Wales before we go and make sure we are in the best shape possible to perform well.”
On the captaincy decision, Pivac added: “Dan Biggar is named captain. We’ve obviously got great leadership in the group with Alun Wyn and Dan. Dan did well in the Six Nations and Al has come back from a pretty big lay-off. He’s had a little bit of rugby and we want him to hit his straps as a second-row and be the best player he can be and focus on playing. He’ll lead naturally anyway but certainly he’s looking forward to that challenge.”
Wales will take on South Africa at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, July 2 before games at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein (July 9) and finally DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday, July 16.
Wales squad for tour to South Africa
Forwards: Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Sam Parry, Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Ben Carter, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands, Taine Basham, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi, James Ratti, Tommy Reffell
Backs: Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar (c), Rhys Patchell, George North, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams