Former Wales and British & Irish Lions prop Graham Price says Wayne Pivac needs to give serious consideration to leaving veteran Alun Wyn Jones out of the starting lineup for the Tests against the Springboks.
Wales will be going into the three-Test tour of South Africa as rank outsiders, having endured a tough Six Nations campaign which ended in a disappointing defeat by Italy. That was Italy’s first win over Wales since 2007 and ended a 36-game Six Nations losing streak.
Having led the team during that Six Nations campaign, Dan Biggar has retained the captaincy for the Tests in South Africa ahead of the most experienced player in Test rugby.
Jones made a miraculous recovery from a dislocated shoulder to lead the British & Irish Lions during last year’s series against the Boks, but broke down with injury again during the Six Nations, only playing in the Test against Italy.
Writing for WalesOnline, Price said that Jones needs to be left on the bench if Wales are to come out successful in the first Test against the Boks in Pretoria on Saturday.
“Adam Beard plays, he calls the lineouts, is settled at this level and his big arms are needed to help disrupt the Springboks’ rolling maul. Beard can play a key role in stopping a key part of South Africa’s game,” Price wrote.
“I hope to see Will Rowlands picked next to him but, of course, that means Pivac leaving out Alun Wyn Jones. The Lions captain, 37 in three months, has been written off before, yet he’s still battling away for his place and clearly wants to go through to the next World Cup.
“However, I just don’t think Pivac can afford to leave out a form player like Rowlands in games like this. He has played outstandingly well, proved himself in the Six Nations, was named Welsh Player of the Year and will be relishing the opportunity to go toe to toe with the Springboks’ famed locks – Etzebeth, De Jager and Mostert.
“The fact Alun Wyn has not been named captain for the tour gives Pivac flexibility not to pick him, I guess. The coach also needs to consider what’s best if he wants Alun Wyn leading the side out in France next year, and I’m not sure three gruelling back-to-back Tests against the Springboks is the best preparation, particularly with the first two of those games at altitude.
“Pick the younger men, I feel. Alun Wyn can still come off the bench if necessary and he’s going to be around the squad, in the changing rooms, anyway to offer his guidance and expertise.”
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