Twelve uncapped players have been named in the matchday squads over the two games. Scarlets winger Caitlin Lewis and forward Gwenllian Jenkins will make their international debut in the starting line-up against Spain on Sunday along with Angharad De Smet, centre Megan Webb and forwards Georgia Evans and Abbie Fleming.
With the Women’s Rugby World Cup taking place in 2021, the five-match autumn series is set to develop strength in depth in a number of areas including leadership and as part of that process, a number of players will take on the captaincy during the month. Phillips captains the team for the opening match this weekend, while Siwan Lillicrap will take on the role against Ireland.
Wales are preparing for their biggest autumn series to date with another away fixture against Scotland on November 17 before two historic matches against Crawshay’s (at Ebbw Vale) and Barbarians at Principality Stadium.
Coaches Gareth Wyatt, Chris Horsman and Geraint Lewis continue to coach the squad, while Wales Women head coach Rowland Phillips is currently taking some time out away from the programme.
Backs coach Gareth Wyatt said, “This autumn is a fantastic chance to develop the players in a number of ways in order to continue to improve as a team. From a playing and performance perspective, we will be tested every weekend against very good international and invitational sides and we are determined to meet those challenges.
“The fact that the five matches take place on consecutive weekends, three of them away from home brings another important dimension to our preparation and replicates a championship-type environment which will be invaluable to our development as players and coaches.
“Then, to be part of two historic encounters in Wales to end the series is obviously something we are all looking forward to being part of. Crawshay’s and Barbarians are two rugby clubs with huge tradition, and it’s a big boost for women’s rugby in Wales to play a key role in these matches.
“Spain first up will be a big challenge for us. They beat South Africa and Scotland last season, they are growing as a rugby nation and we certainly won’t be under-estimating them in our opening games of the series. Along with Ireland and Scotland, they are aiming to secure qualification for the 2021 Rugby World Cup this season. While we are already qualified for the world cup, we want to continue with the momentum created last season, build on the recent regional conditioning and skills programme and keep improving as we look to develop strength in depth this autumn.”
Wales team v Spain (Estadio Nacional Computense, Madrid, Sunday 3 November 12.45pm local time:
Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Angharad De Smet* (Scarlets), Megan Webb* (Cardiff Blues), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Caitlin Lewis* (Scarlets); Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Gwenllian Jenkins* (Scarlets), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Georgia Evans* (Cardiff Blues), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Abbie Fleming* (Cardiff Blues), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Sioned Harries (Scarlets)
Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC), Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Robyn Lock* (Ospreys), Niamh Terry* (Ospreys), Elinor Snowsill (Ospreys), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys)
Wales team v Ireland (the Bowl, UCD, Dublin, Sunday 10 November 1pm :
Kayleigh Powell* (Ospreys); Paige Randall* (Cardiff Blues), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues), Courtney Keight* (Ospreys); Elinor Snowsill (Ospreys), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets); Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Natalia John (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (capt, Ospreys)
Replacements: Carys Phillips (Ospreys), Gwenllian Jenkins (Scarlets), Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Robyn Lock (Ospreys), Keira Bevan (Ospreys), Megan Webb (Cardiff Blues), Rebekah O’Loughlin* (Cardiff Blues)