Wales' Kiwi coach calls up New Zealander
SIX NATIONS TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: New Wales coach Wayne Pivac has named his first squad – which features 38 players, including five who are uncapped.
Headlining the list of newcomers is New Zealand-born former Crusaders utility back Johnny McNicholl.
McNicholl made his first appearance for Wales in the uncapped match against the Barbarians in November.
Also among the newcomers is Gloucester-based teenage-sensation Louis Rees-Zammit.
Prop WillGriff John, second row forward Will Rowlands and centre Nick Tompkins completes the list of uncapped players.
Rhys Carre, Rob Evans and Wyn Jones are the three loose heads props named with Leon Brown, Dillon Lewis and John the three tight head props.
Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias and Ken Owens are the hookers included.
Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, captain Alun Wyn Jones, Cory Hill and Rowlands are named as the second row forwards.
Taulupe Faletau returns from injury to be included.
Faletau’s last Wales appearance was in the Six Nations two years ago.
Other back row options include Aaron Shingler, Aaron Wainwright, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric.
Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams and Rhys Webb, who last played for Wales in December 2017, are named as the three scrumhalves.
Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans and Owen Williams are included, Williams’ last appearance also coming in November 2017.
Backline options see the uncapped trio of Tompkins, Rees-Zammit and McNicholl join the experienced group of Hadleigh Parkes, Owen Watkin, George North, Josh Adams, Owen Lane, Jonah Holmes, Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams.
“We are really excited to be naming our Six Nations squad and kicking the campaign off,” Pivac said.
“A lot of time and effort has gone into selecting the squad, all of the coaches have been out and about, seeing players in training, speaking with them and we are pretty excited with the group we have got.
“Looking back to the Barbarians week, that was hugely important for us. We got a lot of ‘firsts’ out of the way, getting to meet and get in front of the players and having a game together was hugely beneficial.
“We do have a couple of injuries but we flip that into seeing it as an opportunity for some new players to impress, with not only the Six Nations in mind but also longer-term and 2023.
“The Six Nations is hugely exciting for me, it is something I grew up watching from afar and it has such history attached to it, I’m really looking forward to the campaign.”
Forwards: Rhys Carre, Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Leon Brown, WillGriff John, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Will Rowlands, Cory Hill, Aaron Shingler, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric.
Backs: Gareth Davies, Rhys Webb, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Owen Williams, Jarrod Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, George North, Josh Adams, Owen Lane, Johnny McNicholl, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonah Holmes, Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams.