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Welsh prop eyes Tonga for season boost

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/06/2017

Nicky Smith is looking to put a disappointing Six Nations campaign behind him when he faces Tonga in Auckland in the first of Wales' two summer tour ties.

Young loosehead prop Smith started his country's gritty Six Nations clash with Italy in February and helped Rob Howley's men to a 33-7 victory at the Stadio Olimpico.

It was not enough to stop Rob Evans from replacing Smith in the No.1 shirt for the rest of the tournament, but now the Ospreys forward is looking to the future.

With Evans nursing broken fingers, Smith is favourite to start for Wales at loosehead when they meet the Tongans at Eden Park on Friday.

The Test is a prelude to the All Blacks-Samoa clash.

"I'm really excited to extend my season. At my age you want to play as much rugby as you can because you've got that desire to impress and keep working hard," Smith said.

"Going from starting the first game in Italy to being on the bench for the rest of the Six Nations was disappointing, but looking back on it, it wasn't the worst thing in the world to happen to me."

Interim coach Robin McBryde's side is set to feature at least three uncapped players, and Smith is likely to be joined in the front row by hooker Scott Baldwin and tighthead Samson Lee.

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