Welsh Rugby
Wales turn to youth for Japan tour
ESPN Staff
May 1, 2013
Wales' Ryan Jones, Wales v Samoa, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, November 16, 2012
Ryan Jones will not join Wales in Japan © PA Photos

Interim Wales coach Robin McBryde has opted to leave out experienced quartet James Hook, Lee Byrne, Ryan Jones and Matthew Rees for their tour to Japan this summer.

With 15 of Wales' players on British & Irish Lions duty, McBryde has opted to shuffle his pack for their two-Test tour to Japan with 11 uncapped players included in the 32-man training squad.

Prior to flying out to Japan, Wales will reduce the squad to 27 but there is still a good chance a number of debuts will be handed out on their tour of the Far East. There will also be a few players smarting from not being included in Warren Gatland's 37-man Lions squad and the likes of Dan Biggar, Scott Williams and Ken Owens will look to keep themselves in the mix if any injuries occur in Australia.

But while they will be keeping their eye on proceedings Down Under, there will be those in Japan looking to pull on the Wales shirt for the first time. In the front-row Sam Hobbs, Scott Baldwin and Scarlets' Emyr Phillips will hope to be given the chance while elsewhere in the pack, James King, Josh Navidi, Andries Pretorius and Ospreys' Dan Baker will look to make their debuts.

Wales' tour schedule

  • Japan v Wales, Osaka, June 8, 0600 (BST)
  • Japan v Wales, Tokyo, June 15, 0600 (BST)

In the backs, Aled Davis, Owen Williams, Dafydd Howells and Steven Shingler are all uncapped. McBryde explained the selection saying: "We have selected a squad with the right blend of experience and youth and this is a great opportunity for players to make their mark on the international stage.

"It's a chance for some players to experience the international environment for the first time but it's also an opportunity for players who have been involved previously to take the next step as we look to develop leaders. We are travelling to Japan as Six Nations champions and are focused on the two-Tests that await us there and we will be looking to finish the season on a high."

And despite Jones, Rees, Byrne and Hook being left out, McBryde was quick to add the quartet will be available for Lions duty if required. McBryde said: "We want to develop some of these younger players and give them a run of games.

"With those experienced players (who have been left out), we have had assurances that in omitting them from this squad their selection as standby players for the Lions is in no way affected. They will still be available should the call come. With that in mind we decided to develop these youngsters and take them on to the next level."

Forwards: Scott Andrews (Blues), Dan Baker (Ospreys), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Bradley Davies (Blues), Rhys Gill (Saracens), Sam Hobbs (Blues), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), James King (Ospreys), Rob McCusker (Scarlets), Craig Mitchell (Exeter Chiefs), Josh Navidi (Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Andries Pretorius (Blues), Lou Reed (Blues), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets)

Backs: Ashley Beck (Ospreys), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Aled Davis (Scarlets), Dafydd Howells (Ospreys), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets),Tom Prydie (Dragons), Harry Robinson (Blues), Steven Shingler (London Irish), Jonathan Spratt (Ospreys), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Lloyd Williams (Blues), Owen Williams (Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets)

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