Ospreys Jonathan Spratt and Craig Mitchell could make their full international debuts this weekend after Robin McBryde named them amongst the replacements for Wales' fixture against Canada at the York University Stadium in Toronto on Saturday...
TWO OSPREYS SET FOR WALES DEBUTS
Ospreys Jonathan Spratt and Craig Mitchell could make their full international debuts this weekend after Robin McBryde named them amongst the replacements for Wales' fixture against Canada at the York University Stadium in Toronto on Saturday (Kick-off 2.45pm local time).
Scarlets pair Daniel Evans (full-back) and Jonathan Davies (outside-centre) make their debuts against a Canucks side who, according to McBryde, will be buoyed by their close fought battle with the touring Ireland last weekend.
Also keen to pull on the national jersey for the first time will be Cardiff Blues back row Sam Warburton, who joins Mitchell and Spratt on the bench in the caretaker coach's first team selection.
"Both Daniel and Jonathan have earned the right to wear the jersey and now have the chance they've been waiting for," said McBryde.
"Canada competed well with Ireland for 60 minutes and it took a significant moment halfway through the second half when Ireland turned them over and scored from virtually the length of the field to prove a turning point.
"The Canadian's will be buoyed by that and they will be hunting for us. We will need to be right at the top of our game if we want to get the outcome we are working towards."
McBryde has also selected an exciting blend of youth and experience with eight players with less than 10 caps to their name in his starting line-up - Tom James, Andrew Bishop, Chris Czekaj, Dan Biggar, Richard Hibbard, Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones and Robin Sowden-Taylor - but blended his team with a host of experienced players in key positions.
Biggar forms a first time partnership at half-back with 40-times capped soon to be Blues scrum-half Gareth Cooper. Blues duo James and Czekaj fill the wing berths and Bishop forms a centre partnership with debutant Davies.
Up front 50-cap club member Duncan Jones completes his return to the international scene after a long injury lay-off and he packs down alongside hooker Hibbard and the Blues' John Yapp, normally a loosehead, continues his development at tighthead.
It's an all Blues second row with Jones and Davies testing their regional partnership at international level for the first time and another Cardiff colleague Robin-Sowden Taylor joins the established back row pair captain and No8 Ryan Jones and blindside flanker Dafydd Jones.
"Perhaps the most difficult selection was at half-back where we have four good contenders for the jersey and both Nicky and Dwayne have been unlucky to miss out, but could yet have something to say about how the Test goes on Saturday and may also find that we are looking at different combinations against the USA next week," said McBryde.
"We have been in close contact with the Cardiff Blues to try to develop John Yapp into a player who can work on both sides of the scrum and that development continues, but we also have a specialist in Craig Mitchell on the bench who may well be required.
"We are confident that if we need to call on Craig, Sam Warburton and Jonathan Spratt to make their debuts that they will serve us well."
Elsewhere on the bench McBryde also has the extensive experience of Ospreys second row Ian Gough to call upon and Blues hooker Gareth Williams provides cover at hooker.
Scarlets wing Mark Jones was ruled out of selection this weekend due to a niggling knee injury which, although it is not preventing him from training, needs to be progressed over the next few days in order to ensure he is in contention next week.
Jonathan Davies will be the 1,066th Welshman to represent his country, Daniel Evans will be the 1,067th.
WALES: Daniel Evans; Tom James, Jonathan Davies, Andrew Bishop, Chris Czekaj; Dan Biggar, Gareth Cooper; Duncan Jones, Richard Hibbard, John Yapp, Bradley Davies, Deiniol Jones Dafydd Jones, Robin Sowden-Taylor, Ryan Jones (Captain).
Replacements: Gareth Williams, Craig Mitchell, Ian Gough, Sam Warburton, Dwayne Peel, Nicky Robinson, Jonathan Spratt