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Test-hardened Wales squad to tour NZ

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/05/2016

Leigh Halfpenny is the most notable absentee from an experienced Wales squad named to tour New Zealand in June.

Flanker Sam Warburton will lead the 35-man group, who will play England at Twickenham on May 29 before tackling the world champion All Blacks in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. There is also a midweek tour game against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Toulon fullback Halfpenny has not played for Wales since September after suffering a knee injury and is still feeling the effects.

Also missing with injuries are wing Alex Cuthbert and flanker Justin Tipuric.

Scarlets centre Scott Williams is back, having not played Test rugby since being injured during last year's World Cup.

New Zealand utility back Gareth Anscombe is included, with the 25-year-old having played five Tests since ending three seasons of Super Rugby to join the Cardiff Blues in 2014.

There are no uncapped players in coach Warren Gatland's squad, despite many pundits touting the claims of young players such as Ospreys back Sam Davies, Newport Gwent Dragons hooker Elliot Dee and Cardiff Blues flanker Ellis Jenkins.

Gatland says there are no fitness doubts surrounding Warburton and lock Alun Wyn Jones, who are both named after suffering injuries in recent weeks.

The squad has an average of more than 30 caps per player.

"We have picked a squad that is packed full of experience for what is going to be a challenging, but exciting, five-match campaign," Gatland said.

"We are in a great position in terms of the experience in the squad, especially when you look at the age of most of the players."

Wales squad:

Backs: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Priestland (Bath), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Matthew Morgan (Bristol), Tom James (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

Forwards: Rob Evans (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter), Paul James (Ospreys) Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt).

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