Wales to take fringe squad to Australia

Wales head coach Gareth Jenkins plans to rest his senior players for this summer’s tour to Australia, instead taking those players who need to play their way into the Welsh Rugby World Cup squad.

Jenkins will meet with the four regional coaches over the next fortnight to finalise his selection policy for the two Tests Down Under.

“I have to speak to the regional coaches first but my thinking is to leave a group of senior players at home,” said Jenkins.

“I have got to make a final decision on 30 players for the World Cup in the second week of August. We have to make sure we have 30 players who will make us competitive at the World Cup.

“There will be opportunities in the summer for a lot of players who haven’t had a chance in the Six Nations.

“We have got boys like Colin Charvis, Brent Cockbain, Rob Sidoli. They are all great players and are winners with Wales.

“Those are the type of players, as well as the younger players, who will have a chance on the Australian tour.”

Charvis, the Newport Gwent Dragons loose forward, is arguably the form player in all of Wales but was overlooked for the Six Nations as Jenkins stuck with an unchanged unit of Ryan Jones, Alix Popham and Martyn Williams.

Sidoli endured a nightmare day in the defeat to Scotland while Cockbain was limited to appearances off the bench.

The likes of promising Llanelli Scarlets centre Gavin Evans, winger Aled Brew, flanker Gavin Thomas, full-back Lee Byrne and centre Hal Luscombe could all be included after enjoying only limited opportunities for Wales this season.

Gavin Henson has started just one Test since Jenkins took charge and is another who will need to prove his credentials before the final World Cup party is announced.

After the trip to Australia, Wales face August internationals against England, Argentina and France before opening their World Cup campaign against Canada in Nantes.

And things are beginning to look up for Jenkins after Wales ended a run of five straight defeats with Saturday’s 27-18 victory over England.

They came into the game facing a potential Six Nations whitewash and Jenkins said: “That result was a long time coming and thank goodness it did come.

“It was an important win for us. It is a stepping stone for the summer tour to Australia and it will give us the confidence we have been looking for.

“And it was a result based on a good performance. We dominated England in the scrum and the lineout, our ball-carrying was where it needs to be and James Hook was able to take advantage of that.”

 

365 Digital

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