Biggar to lead Wales against Springboks
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named a 33-player squad for the three-Test series in South Africa this July.
George North and Dan Lydiate return for international duty after extended periods out with injury. Ospreys’ teammate Sam Parry will join them in camp with Wales.
Scarlets duo Johnny Williams and Rhys Patchell are also named.
There are two uncapped players: Cardiff Rugby’s James Ratti is called up after featuring in the 2022 Six Nations squad while Leicester Tigers’ Tommy Reffell is selected in a Wales senior men’s squad for the first time.
Dan Biggar will continue to captain the squad for this Test series following his appointment in the Six Nations.
*Article continues below…
“We’ve had some players come back from injury like George North so that’s exciting for the squad,” Pivac said.
“Some players have been ruled out through injury, so there’s naturally going to be change there. Then we’ve looked at players’ form, who we are playing, where we’re playing – we have two games at altitude – and what our gameplan will be when considering selection.
“I spoke to Tommy Reffell before we announced the squad for the Six Nations. We looked hard at Tommy and decided to leave him out then. He’s played very well since, he’s been very consistent – one of the most consistent players in the English Premiership so we feel that he deserves an opportunity and he will be well tested on this tour.
“This three-Test Series is going to be a challenge. It always has been, history shows that and certainly that’s what we’re looking to achieve – to get a victory there if not two and win a series. The first two Tests at altitude are going to be a challenge, so first and foremost we’ve got to do a lot of preparation here in Wales before we go and make sure we are in the best shape possible to perform well.
On the captaincy, Pivac added: “Dan Bigger is named captain. We’ve obviously got great leadership in the group with Alun Wyn and Dan.
“Dan did well in the Six Nations and Al has come back from a pretty big layoff. He’s had a little bit of rugby and we want him to hit his straps as a second row and be the best player he can be and focus on playing. He’ll lead naturally anyway but certainly he’s looking forward to that challenge.”
The first Test against the Springboks will be held at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, July 2. From there Pivac’s squad will head to the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on July 9 for the second Test, before completing the series at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, July 16.
Wales and South Africa have faced each other 37 times to date with the first encounter taking place in Swansea in 1906. The two sides’ last fixture was during the 2021 Nations Series where Wales were narrowly defeated 18-23 at Principality Stadium.
Wales 33-man squad
Forwards: Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Sam Parry, Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Ben Carter, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands, Taine Basham, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi, James Ratti, Tommy Reffell
Backs: Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar (Captain), Rhys Patchell, George North, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams