Wales coach Wayne Pivac has recalled England-based Thomas Young for the Autumn International series despite the loose-forward falling short of the 60-cap rule for players based outside of the country.
Pivac received a special exemption for Wasps flanker Young after it was announced on Wednesday that he would return to Cardiff next season. Exiled players with less than 60 caps are unusually not eligible for selection.
But injuries and a tough schedule that includes matches on successive weekends from Oct. 30 against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia, has forced Pivac’s hand.
Young and other England-based players, fellow loose forwards Taulupe Faletau and Christ Tshiunza, fly-halves Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy, centre Nick Tompkins and wing Louis Rees-Zammit will not be available for the New Zealand match as it falls outside of the international window.
Teenager Tshiunza and prop WillGriff John are two uncapped players in the 38-man squad, while fly-half Rhys Priestland is back in the mix for the first time since 2017 with New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe the fourth pivot selected and most likely to start against the All Blacks.
Pivac has also selected eight British & Irish Lions who lost the series to South Africa earlier this year, including stalwart captain Alun Wyn Jones.
“This has been one of the most difficult selections I’ve had to make with less rugby than would have normally taken place ahead of a campaign in addition to injuries and player unavailability,” Pivac said in a media release from Welsh Rugby.
“When you look at selection you want to select in-form players but it’s fair to say that a number of players haven’t hit their top form.
“We have looked at past performances at this level, including a very successful Six Nations campaign, and we’ve cross-credit some of that information into current form if you like.
“Injuries in certain positions, particularly at openside, have forced us to look a little bit deeper than we would normally but what it does mean is that more players have an opportunity to be exposed to this level of rugby.”
Wyn Jones, Rhodri Jones, Rhys Carre, Ken Owens, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Dillon Lewis, WillGriff John, Tomas Francis, Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Christ Tshiunza, Ross Moriarty, Thomas Young, Taine Basham, Ellis Jenkins, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau.
Tomos Williams, Gareth Davies, Keiran Hardy, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Priestland, Dan Biggar, Callum Sheedy, Johnny Williams, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins, Willis Halaholo, Ben Thomas, Josh Adams, Owen Lane, Louis Rees-Zammit, Johnny McNicholl, Liam Williams.