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'If I can lead on the pitch, I will. I am not the biggest of speakers'

Aaron Wainwright is tackles by Siya Kolisi during the Autumn Nations Series /PA

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.

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Marco van Staden speaks about the Bulls’ eye always being on the Final

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Marco van Staden speaks about the Bulls’ eye always being on the Final

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.


“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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Tom 1 hours ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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