Ten Scarlets have been named in a 38-man Wales squad for the forthcoming Autumn Nations Series 2021 campaign.
Ken Owens, Wyn Jones, Liam Williams and Gareth Davies are four of eight British & Irish Lions in Wayne Pivac’s party and the quartet are joined by Ryan Elias, the uncapped WillGriff John, Johnny Williams, Jonathan Davies, Ryan Elias, Kieran Hardy and Johnny McNicholl.
Wayne Pivac’s 2021 Guinness Six Nations Champions will face the top three ranked teams in the world in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia in this year’s series. In addition to Australia, Wales will face a second of their 2023 Rugby World Cup opponents, Fiji, during the campaign, as Pivac continues his preparations for the global tournament.
WillGriff John is set for his long-awaited Test debut after cruelly missing out on a first cap prior to the first Covid lockdown. There is also a recall for McNicholl, while Johnny Williams (pictured) proved his fitness with a comeback in the URC clash with Munster last weekend.
“We understand that the opening game against the All Blacks is outside of the international window but I believe that we all need this game, after what has been a particularly difficult time for everyone because of the global pandemic,” said Pivac.
“It will be fantastic to play in front of a capacity crowd once again, with a number of these players getting to experience that for the first time.
“This has been one of the most difficult selections I’ve had to make with less rugby than would have normally taken place ahead of a campaign in addition to injuries and player unavailability.
“When you look at selection you want to select in-form players but it’s fair to say that a number of players haven’t hit their top form. We have looked at past performances at this level, including a very successful Six Nations campaign, and we’ve cross-credit some of that information into current form if you like.
“Injuries in certain positions, particularly at openside, have forced us to look a little bit deeper than we would normally but what it does mean is that more players have an opportunity to be exposed to this level of rugby. This can only be a good thing as we continue our preparations for the 2023 World Cup.”