Roberts to lead Wales against Tonga and Samoa
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Veteran centre Jamie Roberts will captain Wales in their two Tests away to Tonga and Samoa next month, the Welsh Rugby Union announced Tuesday.
With regular captain Alun Wyn Jones in a British and Irish Lions led by former Wales skipper Sam Warburton for the combined side's upcoming tour of New Zealand, Wales were on the hunt for a new on-field leader for their internationals against Tonga in Auckland on June 16 and Samoa in Apia a week later.
"I'm immensely honoured to be named captain of Wales for this year's tour," said Roberts in a WRU statement. "It's a proud moment for myself, but more importantly my family and a position of responsibility that I will take huge pride in."
There have been alterations to the backroom staff too, with Wales boss Warren Gatland in charge of a Lions squad where interim coach Rob Howley is one of his assistants.
As a result, Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde will be in overall charge against Tonga and Samoa.
Roberts, capped 91 times by Wales, failed to gain selection for this year's Lions after starring in the combined side's 2-1 series triumph in Australia four years ago. The Harlequins midfielder was one of the most experienced players available to McBryde after Gatland selected 12 Wales internationals in his Lions squad.
"We've got a good mix of experience and youth in this squad," said McBryde who, following the Welsh call-ups to the Lions, named 13 uncapped players in his 32-man party for the Tests against the Pacific island nations.
"The senior players will be expected to display their leadership qualities, and we want the younger men to show they've got what it takes to handle the intense international environment."
Backs: Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Steff Evans (Scarlets), Keelan Giles (Ospreys), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins/ENG, capt), Owen Williams (Leicester/ENG), Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues).
Forwards: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter/ENG), Ollie Griffiths (Newport Gwent Dragons), Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), James King (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Thomas Young (Wasps/ENG).
June 16: Tonga v Wales, Eden Park, Auckland
June 23: Samoa v Wales, Apia