Wales rugby summer tour: Five good reasons to be selected

Wales training
Wales preparing for their summer tour matches against Tonga and Samoa

While the eyes of the rugby world are on the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand, Wales have their own summer tour in June.

A squad, including 14 uncapped players and coached by Robin McBryde, face Tonga in Auckland on Friday, 16 June and Samoa in Apia a week later.

Summer tours have been notoriously difficult for Wales over the years - four years ago they were beaten by Japan for the first time.

But they have consistently uncovered talented players who have gone on to star for their country - and the Lions.

What more incentive do players like Keelan Giles, Thomas Young and Steff Evans need than to pull on the Wales shirt and follow in the footsteps of the greats?

Here are five players who took their touring chances with both hands.

New Zealand 1969: Gerald Davies

Gerald Davies scores a try for Wales against Argentina in 1976
Gerald Davies scored 20 tries for Wales in 46 matches

In a sport replete with great conversions, Gerald Davies' switch from centre to wing stands out as one of the most inspired.

It happened on an internal flight in New Zealand when Wales coach Clive Rowlands convinced Davies that his future lay wide on the right, rather than midfield where he had been playing.

It was borne out of necessity. With Stuart Watkins injured, Rowlands needed a replacement on the right wing.

A passionate, persuasive man never short of a word or 20, he won the argument and paved the way for rugby history to be made.

Wales lost both Tests against the All Blacks in 1969, but Davies scored three tries for the Lions in the 2-1 series win over New Zealand in 1971 and won three Grand Slams with Wales in the 1970s.

And when rugby's hall of fame was opened at the dawn of the 21st century, Davies was one of the first 35 inductees.

Australia 1978: Terry Holmes

Terry Holmes in action for Wales against France
Terry Holmes played only 25 times for Wales in an injury curtailed career

When Wales travelled to Australia in the summer of 1978 they needed to find a replacement for the recently-retired Gareth Edwards.

No pressure then!

Brynmor Williams had toured with the Lions in 1977, playing in three Tests, and was expected to slot into Wales' number nine shirt.

He did in the first Test, scoring on his Wales debut. But Terry Holmes, a 21-year-old powerhouse from Cardiff, got the nod in the second Test after impressing during provincial matches, and scored a try as Wales lost 19-17.

Holmes was never seriously challenged as Wales' first-choice scrum-half until switching to rugby league with Bradford Northern in 1985 and was selected for the Lions tours of 1980 and 1983 - both ending in injury.

Now regarded as one of Wales' great scrum-halves, Holmes was practically unknown before the tour.

Argentina 2006: Alun Wyn Jones

Alun Wyn Jones in action for Wales against Argentina in 2006
Alun Wyn Jones has been on three British and Irish Lions tours

Alun Wyn Jones has played 110 times for Wales and in six Tests for the Lions, but in 2006 he was a fresh-faced blind-side flanker when he made his Wales debut in Puerto Madryn on 11 June, 2006.

It was Gareth Jenkins' first game in charge of Wales after taking over from Mike Ruddock and there was a fresh look to the Wales pack.

Jones also played in the second Test on the flank, with his Ospreys colleague Ian Evans preferred at lock.

Again, Wales lost both Tests, and Jones had to wait until February 2007 to get his first start in the second row.

But even at that early stage it was clear the tour had introduced genuine talent to the international game.

North America 2009: Dan Biggar

Dan Biggar playing for Wales during their north American tour in 2009
Dan Biggar has scored 295 points in 56 Tests

Another Lions tourist on the 2017 tour of New Zealand, fly-half Dan Biggar was on the periphery of the Wales team before being included on the development tour of North America.

The Ospreys player had made one international appearance as a substitute for James Hook against Canada in Cardiff, but made his first Wales start in the 32-23 win in Toronto.

Biggar calmly kicked six penalties and converted both Wales tries, displaying the unflappable nature which has made him a consistent and constant presence for Wales since 2012.

With Stephen Jones, James Hook and then Rhys Priestland delaying his breakthrough, Biggar's other strong character trait - patience - was rewarded again when he was named for the 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand.

Japan 2013: Liam Williams

Liam Williams takes on the Japan defence in 2013
Liam Williams has played most of his international rugby on the wing

Liam Williams had already played for Wales by the time they took on Eddie Jones' Japan in 2013.

But with Leigh Halfpenny starring with the Lions in Australia, this was the Scarlets man's chance to show his talents in the number 15 shirt.

The tour is remembered because Japan registered their first win over Wales, in the second Test.

Bbut Williams showed the combative streak that has made him a Wales regular and a firm favourite with fans.

This summer while Wales are taking on Tonga and Samoa, Williams will be on tour alongside Halfpenny with the Lions in New Zealand.

Next season he joins European champions Saracens.

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