Gatland drafts in three new faces
May 16, 2010
Wales coach Warren Gatland has named an experienced squad to face South Africa and New Zealand next month © Getty Images
Wales have named three uncapped players in the 27-man squad to face South Africa and tour New Zealand next month.
Scarlets trio Tavis Knoyle, Ken Owens and Rob McCusker join a squad of players boasting an average of just over 25 caps each and with five players already in the 50-cap club. Scarlets playmaker Stephen Jones, Blues prop Gethin Jenkins and Ospreys trio Adam Jones, Jonathan Thomas and Shane Williams all add the considerable weight of their experience to a squad led by Ryan Jones - himself set to make his 24th appearance as captain against the Springboks and move a step closer to the all time record held by Ieuan Evans, who led his country 28 times.
Elsewhere 2005 Grand Slam winner, Blues prop, John Yapp returns to the squad which otherwise largely resembles Warren Gatland's RBS 6 Nations squad of 2010 - save the already noted absences of James Hook, Martyn Williams, Luke Charteris and Dwayne Peel. That means Wales' youngest player Tom Prydie - who at 18 years and 27 days faced Italy last time out in the 33 - 10 win at Millennium Stadium - could return to the scene of his debut as head coach Warren Gatland tells how he is pleased with the blend of youth and experience he now has available to him.
"I'm a great believer in 'if you are good enough you are old enough' and that applies to the likes of both Tom and Tavis Knoyle," said Gatland. "We have gone very much for continuity of selection and kept the squad small, but there are also a couple of youngsters in there who we are going to stick by.
"Tom will gain experience from being with us, Shane Williams and even Lee Byrne aren't going to be around forever and he is someone who can cover those positions and who we are excited about. We are excited about Tavis as well, he is a big strong lad, someone who has been compared to Mike Phillips on the pitch, he has a good pass and some real speed and he has the frame there as well so he has it all going for him and he has some real potential.
"Rob (McCusker) comes in as well with a real opportunity to move himself up the pecking order. He perhaps wouldn't have had the chance if Martyn had been with us or if Dan Lydiate at the Dragons had been fit, but he has an opportunity now. We have been impressed with his form for the Scarlets and he has played some sevens for Wales and there's no doubting he has the pace and ability so he is great potential."
Gatland has also named an eight man standby squad which will train with Wales while they are in the UK and are in line to be called up for the New Zealand tour should injuries occur. Dragons trio Will Harries, Gavin Thomas and Jason Tovey join Blues pair Chris Czekaj and Thomas Rhys Thomas and Ospreys duo Ian Gough and Craig Mitchell together with the Scarlets' Martyn Roberts on the standby list.
Wales squad to play South Africa in Cardiff on June 5 and for the summer tour of New Zealand.
Backs: L Byrne (Ospreys), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Ospreys), T Prydie (Ospreys), A Bishop (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Jones (Scarlets), D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Ospreys), R Rees (Cardiff Blues), T Knoyle (Scarlets).
Forwards: G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), P James (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Scarlets), H Bennett (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Jones (Cardiff Blues), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), A Powell (Cardiff Blues), R McCusker (Scarlets), R Jones (Ospreys).