Wales call on youth against Tonga

Robin McBryde (Gallo Images)
Robin McBryde (Gallo Images)

Auckland - Wales will rely on youthful exuberance as a weakened squad seeks to maintain a perfect winning record against Tonga in Auckland on Friday.

Stand-in coach Robin McBryde named nine debutants in his match-day squad as the Welsh seek to fill the gap left by 12 senior players touring with the British and Irish Lions.

Even the regular national coach Warren Gatland is unavailable as he leads the Lions in New Zealand, creating a unique opportunity for youngsters to make their mark.

The match was originally scheduled to be played in Nuku'alofa but was relocated after facilities in the Tongan capital were deemed inadequate. 

Instead, it is being played as part of a double-header at Eden Park alongside New Zealand-Samoa as the All Blacks warm-up for the Lions at the same venue on Saturday week.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players to be taking part in this match at Eden Park, and we expect them to make the most of it," McBryde said.

"We've got an average age of 25 in the match squad, but there are experienced heads in there. We'll need them all to be on top form against what will undoubtedly be a passionate, tough Tongan team."

Wales have a perfect 8-0 record against Tonga, although the Pacific islanders have occasionally run them close, most recently a 17-7 loss in Cardiff in 2013.

Teams:

Wales

15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts (captain), 11 Steffan Evans, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Nicky Smith

Substitutes: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Ellis Jenkins, 20 Ollie Griffiths, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Cory Allen

Tonga

15 David Halaifonua, 14 Nafi Tu'itavake, 13 Siale Piutau (captain), 12 Vili Tahitu'a, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Latiume Fosita, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Valentino Mapapalangi, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Dan Faleafa, 5 Sitiveni Mafi, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Ben Temeifuna, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Lau Talakai 

Substitutes: 16  Suliasi Taufalele, 17 Sila Paufisi, 18 Phil Kite, 19 Sione Tau, 20 Mike Faleafa, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Kali Hala, 23 Kiti Taimani

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