Eli set for Wales debut

Eli Walker will become the latest player to graduate from the Ospreys development pathway to represent Wales at senior level this weekend, after being named in the team to play Ireland on Saturday.


It will end a long wait for a first cap for the Gorseinon RFC product, 21 months after he was named to face South Africa only to suffer a hamstring injury that forced him out of the game.

With five Ospreys in the starting line-up, more than any other, and another player on the bench, the Ospreys once again have the largest representation in the 23.

Also starting are props Nicky Smith and Aaron Jarvis, and they are joined by back rowers Dan Baker and Justin Tipuric, who has been named vice-captain. James King provides cover for the second and back rows on the bench.

Scott Williams will lead a team that contains four uncapped players.

The Scarlets centre will become Wales’ 131st captain on his 30th Test appearance and will be joined in the centre by uncapped Tyler Morgan.

Dominic Day and Ross Moriarty also earn their first Test caps in the opening Dove Men Test.

Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland has named a blend of youth and experience for his side’s first warm-up game ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Hallam Amos will win his second cap at full-back and will join Alex Cuthbert and Walker in the back-three.

There is huge experience at half-back with James Hook lining up alongside Mike Phillips who will make his 94th appearance for his country.

In the front-row Ospreys prop Nicky Smith and Aaron Jarvis are joined by former regional team-mate Richard Hibbard.

Day will feature for the first time in the second-row, packing down alongside Scarlets’ Jake Ball.

Moriarty is joined in the back-row by vice-captain Justin Tipuric, and Ospreys No.8, Dan Baker.

After intense training camps in Switzerland and Doha, Gatland is looking forward to seeing his side take to the field on Saturday and grasping their opportunity.

Saturday is a real opportunity for these players to put their hand up,” he said.

“We have been really impressed over the last few weeks, we have put the players under a lot of pressure and they have responded really well.

“Today is their opportunity to show what they can do on the international stage.

“We have the right blend of youth and experience and it’s all about grasping the chance at this level.

“It’s going to be a huge occasion, Ireland coming to town, a packed Millennium Stadium and players with everything to play for.”

There are two further uncapped players named amongst the replacements in Cardiff Blues duo Kristian Dacey and Gareth Anscombe. They are joined on the bench by regional team-mates Scott Andrews and Lloyd Williams. Rob Evans, James King and Taulupe Faletau complete the forwards with Matthew Morgan completing the back replacements. 


Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), * Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Scott Williams (Scarlets, CAPT), * Eli Walker (Ospreys), James Hook (Gloucester Rugby), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro); Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), * Dominic Day (Bath Rugby), * Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Vice-CAPT), Dan Baker (Ospreys).

Replacements: Rob Evans (Scarlets), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), James King (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Matthew Morgan (Bristol Rugby)

*Denotes uncapped player