Source: INPHO/Ben Brady

Hannah Jones’ big Day

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Wales prepare for Canada showdown

It’s a big occasion for the Welsh skipper, Hannah Jones. As she leads her team out for their first ever dip in WXV waters, she celebrates her 50th cap. A first cap at the age of 16 shows how an early talent has developed to this high level.

Ioan Cunningham has rewarded the team that gained its first ever victory over USA (38-18) at Colwyn Bay by parading them again. The only change sees Carys Williams-Morris added to the bench. (Details below)

Four of the Welsh squad out in New Zealand have had to suffer a quite unexpected setback, the demise of their home club. Carys Phillips, Alex Callender, Hannah Bluck and Carys Cox all played for Worcester Warriors. Two more test players, Ffion Lewis and Natalia John, would have been with them but for injuries.

This is such an exceptionally rare event that it is hard to know just how it may affect them on the field. All the rugby world will be wishing them well.

Wales met all their three WXV1 opponents during last year. They knew from the start that they would face the stiffest challenge of the six WXV1 nations. First they meet the Maple Leafs, who, ranked 4, stand two places higher. But their sixth place represents a giddy height for them, and they are determined to prove their worth in this opening game.

They will be running out into the Sky Stadium, Wellington, known locally as The Cake Tin. I just wish that any of the cakes I have eaten came anywhere near to filling a ground that has a 34,500 capacity. On second thoughts, perhaps not.

Kevin Rouet is being a bit coyer about announcing his Canadian team. Perhaps he’s taking a crafty look at the Welsh line-up to see where he needs to assemble his heavy artillery, while his cavalry can hunt out gaps in opposing defences.

The Welsh Squad:

15. Jasmine Joyce, 14. Lisa Neumann, 13. Hannah Jones (captain), 12. Kerin Lake, 11. Carys Cox, 10. Robyn Wilkins, 9. Keira Bevan, 1. Gwenllian Pyrs, 2. Carys Phillips, 3. Sisilia Tuipulotu, 4. Abbie Fleming, 5. Georgia Evans, 6. Alisha Butchers, 7. Alex Callender, 8. Bethan Lewis

16. Kelsey Jones, 17. Abbey Constable, 18. Donna Rose, 19. Kate Williams, 20. Sioned Harries, 21. Meg Davies, 22. Lleucu George, 23. Carys Williams-Morris

Saturday, 21 October, KO 16.00 (local time), 04.00 (BST) – yes, that’s rather early in the day.