Dan Biggar named Wales captain over Alun Wyn Jones
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Flyhalf Dan Biggar was named Wales captain on Wednesday for the three-test tour to South Africa over Alun Wyn Jones despite the vastly experienced lock returning from a shoulder injury.
Biggar retained the leadership role after standing in for Jones in the Six Nations, where Wales made a poor defense of its title by losing to Ireland, England, France and even Italy.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac named 33 players for the series against the world champion Springboks in July, with winger George North and loose forward Dan Lydiate also returning from injury to boost the team.
There were two uncapped players; Cardiff No. 8 James Ratti and Leicester loose forward Tommy Reffell, who was named in a Wales squad for the first time. Experienced center Jonathan Davies was left out.
Pivac’s biggest call was to keep Biggar as captain ahead of Jones, who is the most capped player in rugby history with 150 test appearances for Wales and 12 for the British and Irish Lions.
Jones recovered from a shoulder injury to captain the Lions in South Africa last year but then injured the same shoulder in an end-of-year test against New Zealand.
“We’ve obviously got great leadership in the group with Alun Wyn and Dan,” Pivac said. “Dan did well in the Six Nations and Al has come back from a pretty big lay off. He’s had a little bit of rugby and we want him to hit his straps as a second row and be the best player he can be and focus on playing.
“He’ll lead naturally anyway but certainly he’s looking forward to that challenge.”
Wales said eight players, including hooker Ken Owens and flanker Justin Tipuric, were unavailable because of injury.
Wales faces the top-ranked Springboks at altitude in Pretoria and Bloemfontein in the first two tests, with the series-ender in Cape Town. It’s Wales’ first tour to South Africa since 2014.
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