Owen Lane relishing his return to Wales side – Wayne Pivac

Wales head coach makes three changes for Pumas’ Cardiff visit.

Wales v Canada – Summer Series 2021 – Principality Stadium
Wales v Canada – Summer Series 2021 – Principality Stadium

Wales boss Wayne Pivac says wing Owen Lane is relishing a return to the Test match stage against Argentina on Saturday.

It will be 23-year-old Lane’s first Wales appearance since starting the 2019 World Cup third-place play-off defeat against New Zealand in Tokyo.

He is among three changes to the starting line-up, with full-back Hallam Amos and scrum-half Kieran Hardy also featuring.

New Zealand v Wales – 2019 Rugby World Cup – Bronze Final – Tokyo Stadium
Owen Lane (left) pictured during the 2019 World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

Lane’s Cardiff team-mate Amos replaces Leigh Halfpenny, who is sidelined due to a knee injury and will undergo surgery in the next couple of weeks.

Lane saw his progress after the World Cup stalled by a serious hamstring injury, then a shoulder problem, that combined to make last year a write-off.

Pivac said: “Owen has trained very well. We have given him the opportunity to put his hand up and see how he goes at this level against a very good side.

“In terms of his injuries, he hasn’t had a consistent run, so we left him out of the Canada game and just worked him hard on his fitness levels.

“He has worked really hard over the last two-and-a-half weeks, so we are giving him an opportunity that he is going to relish.

“He is like a cat on a hot tin roof. With the injuries he has had, he is really looking forward to this and hopefully he will go well.”

Pivac has retained the pack that started against Canada last weekend, which means a second cap for 20-year-old Dragons lock Ben Carter.

And Cardiff fly-half Jarrod Evans, who has recovered from an ankle injury, is named as one of three backs on the bench alongside scrum-half Tomos Williams and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins.

Wales v Canada – Summer Series 2021 – Principality Stadium
Wing Jonah Holmes scores one of Wales’ tries against Canada (David Davies/PA)

Wales opened their summer series with a 68-12 demolition of Canada, but Tests against Argentina on successive weekends will seriously examine a squad minus 10 players on British and Irish Lions duty in South Africa.

The Pumas have not beaten Wales for nine years, suffering four successive defeats, yet they arrive in Cardiff following a memorable 2020 that saw them topple New Zealand and draw twice with Australia.

And it is exactly the challenge Pivac wants for his players as he continues building squad depth on the road towards World Cup 2023.

“It is really about looking at what they (Argentina) are capable of, and we know that only too well, looking at their matches against Australia and New Zealand,” he added.

“We know it is going to be a very tough series.

“To get a game under the team’s belt first, to get all the nerves out of the way against Canada has been a plus.

“We didn’t want to make 10 changes for this one and 10 changes for the last one. We wanted a bit of continuity, but we will reassess things after this Test.

“There may well be some changes for the last one, but we wanted to give them an opportunity to put their best foot forward against Argentina.

“Argentina provide the perfect opponents for us this weekend and are the exact test we want for this group of players.

“We will be tested up-front, and the physicality will be at a level that some of these players have not experienced before, but that will answer a lot of questions for us as we build towards the World Cup.”

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