Uncapped pair Tommy Reffell and James Ratti named by Wales for South Africa trip

Tommy Reffell urges on Leicester's forwards
Tommy Reffell is a former Wales Under-20s player

Wales coach Wayne Pivac has named Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell and Cardiff number eight James Ratti as two uncapped players in his 33-man squad to tour South Africa in July.

Pivac retained Dan Biggar as captain for the three-Test tour ahead of Alun Wyn Jones.

George North returns after a year out through injury, but veteran Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies misses out.

There are recalls for flanker Dan Lydiate and fly-half Rhys Patchell.

Ospreys open-side Jac Morgan misses out after making his debut during the 2022 Six Nations.

There is also no room for Cardiff lock Seb Davies, who finished the Six Nations campaign at blind-side flanker, but there is a return for Ospreys hooker Sam Parry.

Reffell 'one of most consistent in English Premiership'

Bridgend-born Reffell, 23, has been an impressive performer in the Leicester side which is currently top of the English Premiership.

"I spoke to Tommy before we announced the squad for the Six Nations," said Pivac.

"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."

Lydiate, 34, returns after missing a year through the knee injury he suffered while playing for Wales during the Six Nations game against Ireland in February 2021.

James Ratti in Wales training
James Ratti was an uncapped member of Wales' 2022 Six Nations squad

Patchell, 29, last played for Wales against Scotland in the rearranged Six Nations match in October 2020.

He was missing for a year through concussion and leg injuries.

Patchell is named alongside fly-halves Biggar and Gareth Anscombe with Bristol's Callum Sheedy missing out.

North suffered a knee injury in April 2021 and was ruled out for a year, but has played two games on his return for Ospreys.

He will be one of four centre options alongside the recalled Johnny Williams, Owen Watkin and Nick Tompkins.

Justin Tipuric, Ken Owens, Willis Halaholo, Aaron Wainwright, Leigh Halfpenny, Ross Moriarty and Johnny McNicholl all have injuries that rule them out of the trip, which begins with the first Test in Pretoria on 2 July before matches on successive Saturdays in Bloemfontein and Cape Town.

Jones 'to hit his straps as a second row'

Alun Wyn Jones has regularly captained Wales since 2017 and helped his country to Six Nations success in 2019 and 2021, before leading the British and Irish Lions in the 2-1 series defeat by the Springboks in 2021.

The 36-year-old suffered a shoulder injury against New Zealand in October 2021 and missed the first four games of the Six Nations.

He returned for his 150th Wales cap in the Six Nations finale defeat against Italy five months later, with Northampton fly-half Biggar leading Wales during the tournament.

Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar sing Wales' anthem, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau
Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar sing Wales' anthem

"We've obviously got great leadership in the group with Alun Wyn and Dan," said Pivac.

"Dan did well in the Six Nations and Al has come back from a pretty big lay-off. 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."

Notable omissions

Pivac highlighted why certain players were not selected, with Scarlets centre Davies and Ospreys flanker Morgan the most notable omissions.

Pivac believes Morgan needs to bulk up over the summer despite the flanker having the joint highest number of turnovers and second highest total of tackles in the United Rugby Championships (URC).

Wales aiming to banish 'emotional scars' on South Africa trip, says Wayne Pivac

"I had a good chat to Jac around what we want him to do in the off-season and that's a big work-on in terms of what he can do in the strength and conditioning area," said Pivac.

"The game's a really physical game. Where we're going, South Africa, there are a lot of very big men. We've asked him to improve, if he can, in that area of physicality when he's over the ball, being even stronger than he is.

"He'll go away and work hard at his game, I know that. He's a young guy and he's desperate to get back into the side. It's all ahead of him."

Pivac wants 34-year-old Davies to have a full pre-season ahead of next year's World Cup and says it is not the end of his international career.

"I've had a good chat with Jonathan," said Pivac.

"We had a chat around him having a big off-season now with next season being a huge one for everybody, obviously.

"We wanted to bring George [North] back in. We explained Nick Tompkins is playing well and Owen Watkin did a very good job in the Six Nations, particularly defensively.

"So it was an opportunity to have a look at Johnny Williams, who is back from injury.

"We know pretty much everything about Jonathan. It's a case of him getting himself ready to go for a big start to next season to push for the autumn and beyond.

"We haven't written him off and that's what I've told him.

"He knows that form will be important at the start of next season leading into those first internationals."

Forwards: Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones, Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Dewi Lake, Sam Parry, Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones, Ben Carter, Dan Lydiate, Josh Navidi, James Ratti, Taulupe Faletau, Taine Basham, Tommy Reffell.

Backs: Gareth Davies, Kieran Hardy, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar (capt), Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Patchell, George North, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Alex Cuthbert, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams.

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Source: BBC Rugby Union News

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By adamreeves / Administrator, bbp_keymaster on May 18, 2022