McBryde to name new-look Wales
Published 01/05/2013 | 07:36
Interim head coach Robin McBryde is set to name a squad boasting a mix of youth and experience as Wales prepare to head to Japan without their large Lions contingent.
Wales, who had 15 players selected in the Lions party to tour Australia, will look to build on their second consecutive Six Nations title when they face Japan in Osaka and Tokyo in mid-June.
McBryde takes charge with Warren Gatland, Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins heading Down Under with the Lions. But the caretaker boss will not be short of players with Test match experience, even with so many first-choice players unavailable to him.
Having skippered the side for three of their five Six Nations fixtures, Ryan Jones is the favourite to lead the squad, providing the back-rower is fully fit having broken a bone in his shoulder against Scotland in March.
Other players who suffered Lions disappointment, such as fly-half Dan Biggar, prop Paul James and hooker Ken Owens are all set to be included.
Fly-half Rhys Priestland and lock Bradley Davies, meanwhile, could be in line for recalls after missing the Six Nations through injury.
The trip to Japan will not be the first time McBryde has led his country. The former hooker took charge during the tour of Canada and the United States in 2009, again when Gatland and company were on Lions duty.
As was the case four years ago, McBryde, who this time will be assisted by Shaun Edwards, is likely to hand opportunities to some of the promising young talent in the domestic game.
Impressive Ospreys forward James King is certain to be selected having been included in the Six Nations squad, while his team-mates Scott Baldwin and Lloyd Peers are also in contention.
Cardiff Blues fly-half Rhys Patchell could force his way in, although there is plenty of competition for the number 10 shirt with Biggar, Priestland and James Hook all available. But Ospreys wing Eli Walker, such an electrifying presence during this season's Heineken Cup, will miss out after undergoing surgery on a back problem.