Pivac springs surprises in first Wales squad selection

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New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named his first squad since taking over from Warren Gatland for the uncapped test against Barbarians at the end of the month.

He has opted for a 35-man squad that will train together at The Vale next week ahead of the game at the Principality Stadium, which will take place on the same weekend as a round of the Guinness Pro14. As it is outside the international window all other teams in the league will be full strength.

The obvious exclusion is that of Alun Wyn Jones, with the second row and captain under Gatland rumoured to be nursing an injury, although there is no confirmation of that at this stage.

Although they won’t win their first caps against the Barbarians, there are five uncapped players in the squad, with Taine Basham and Shane Lewis-Hughes part of the back row corps, Willis Halaholo amongst the centres, and Johnny McNicholl and Ashton Hewitt part of the back three.

There are also recalls for a number of players who did not make the Rugby World Cup squad, with Rob Evans, Samson Lee, Leon Brown, Ollie Griffiths, Jarrod Evans, Sam Davies and Steff Evans included in the selection.

The rest of the team all toured Japan over the last two months, leaving Pivac with a mix of youth and experience in his first squad selection as he begins work towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

With the game being outside the international window any players based outside Wales were not considered for selection, while injuries to Cory Hill, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi, George North, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Anscombe and Jon Davies prevented them from being involved.

Wales squad for Barbarians

Forwards: Wyn Jones, Nicky Smith, Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Elliot Dee, Dillon Lewis, Samson Lee, Leon Brown, Jake Ball, Bradley Davies, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Ollie Griffiths, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Shingler, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Aled Davies, Tomos Williams, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Sam Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Owen Watkin, Willis Halaholo, Owen Lane, Ashton Hewitt, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Leigh Halfpenny, Steff Evans, Johnny McNicholl

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