Wales names squad for Tonga and Samoa matches

"I'm excited for the new players in the squad as they get the chance to test themselves at this level, and also for the more established players who now have a chance to become leaders in this team".

The squad features no fewer than 13 uncapped players, nearly all of whom have come through the Wales U20 pathway.

In the backs, Aled Davies, Steff Evans, Keelan Giles, Owen Williams, Rhun Williams and Tomos Williams are all in contention to make their Test bows.

Wales, who are without 12 players selected for the Lions squad, face Tonga in Auckland on June 16, then Samoa in Apia eight days later.

Wales head coach Robin McBryde said: "We have a huge amount of respect for rugby's Pacific heritage, so to be able to compete in a double-header celebrating that is very special".

Samoa have played the All Blacks six times previously, the last being the historic test in Apia two years ago when Ieremia was Manu Samoa assistant coach.

"That motivation will always be there, but the focus now is on Wales and winning two games and preparing the team as best as possible".




However, in a Wales squad of 14 backs and 18 forwards, there was no recall for hooker Richard Hibbard.

McBryde said: "We are going there with the view of giving ourselves the best opportunity to win two tough games".

"It would be short-sighted to not recognise the fact the Lions are playing so close to us".

"There is one eye on the future, obviously, whether the next World Cup in 2019 or the World Cup following". If they come knocking on our door we will support them without weakening ourselves too much.

New Zealand players during the match.

Wales's test against Tonga had been moved from Nuku'alofa after concerns over the state of the pitch at the National Stadium.

"It's the balance of youth and experience which excites us in particular", McBryde said. "That was quite an experienced side and guys were coming to the end of their careers so this time around we're rebuilding Manu Samoa", he said.

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