Shropshire Star

Aaron Wainwright knows Wales need strength in depth for 2027 World Cup

Uncapped Ellis Bevan, James Ratti, Eddie James and Jacob Beetham are part of Wales’ squad to face South Africa.

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Aaron Wainwright believes that Wales’ Twickenham appointment with South Africa is an important staging post on the road to the 2027 World Cup.

Wales’ resources have been severely tested for Saturday’s encounter with several players either unavailable because the game falls outside World Rugby’s summer Test window so England-based players cannot be considered, injured or rested.

The list of absentees features established performers like Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Jac Morgan, Adam Beard, Tomos Williams, Will Rowlands and Josh Adams.

And it means that Wales’ matchday 23 has an inexperienced look to it, featuring four uncapped players – Ellis Bevan, James Ratti, Eddie James and Jacob Beetham – and eight others whose Test match appearances are in single figures.

“If we want to get better, this is the game to test ourselves and find out where we can get better,” Wales number eight Wainwright said.

“We have talked a lot about being brave and us being the aggressors in the game and being confident.

“If I was one of those guys coming in for the first time, I would just try and get myself into the game nice and early, be confident, put your hand up and try to make something happen.

Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright passes the ball
Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright is closing in on 50 caps for his country (David Davies/PA)

“The more guys that can get experience at international level, it is going to be better for us as a whole squad.

“Warren (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) has talked about trying to get to 2027 with as many people with around 50 caps as possible, and there is no better way of doing that than by exposing guys new into the team with international rugby.

“Once they get a taste for that, I am sure they will want to get more. It is just about building that strength in depth.”

Wainwright, who made his Wales debut six years ago, is only two appearances away from a half-century.

He is an established member of Gatland’s starting XV and will be a key figure not only against South Africa but on Wales’ two-Test Australia tour in July.

He is comfortably the most experienced Wales forward on show this weekend, but Wainwright added: “I haven’t really read into that too much.

“I am just trying to concentrate on my own job for the weekend and hopefully pull the boys along with me in the game.

“If I can lead on the pitch, I will. I am not the biggest of speakers off the pitch, but hopefully my actions can help guide us.

“I am feeling good. I love playing rugby, and the more games, the better. I am feeling fresh going into the game and looking forward to it.

“There are a lot of big names playing for them. It is an exciting challenge, and hopefully we can get stuck into the game nice and early and put our mark on them.

“I think any time you come up against the world champions it is going to be a tough test. We are looking forward to that and hopefully prove some people wrong.”

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