By Hannah Blackwell
Jaz Joyce will play her first match for Wales in almost a year when she returns to the team to face the USA in Colwyn Bay on Saturday.
Wales’ most high profile female player missed the 2023 Six Nations, having opted instead for the Sevens circuit, but she has returned home and will start at full-back against the Americans at Parc Eirias.
Alisha Butchers also makes a return after missing the Six Nations through a knee injury and there is a place on the bench for another long-term absentee, prop Donna Rose.
Head coach Ioan Cunningham has named one new cap in Worcester Warriors wing Carys Cox, while the uncapped Wales U20s full-back Nel Metcalfe is named on the bench.
Robyn Wilkins has taken the number 10 jersey following the retirement of Elinor Snowsill, while Hannah Jones retains the captaincy at centre.
Women's test games this weekend in WXV warmups
🏉New Zealand V Australia (O’Reilly Cup)
🏉England V Canada
🏉Scotland V Spain
🏉Italy V Japan
🏉Wales V USA
— Scrumqueens – Women’s Rugby (@ScrumQueens) September 28, 2023
Wales are sixth in the world rankings and qualified for the new WXV tournament by finishing third in the 2023 Six Nations, with wins over Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
They will play world champions New Zealand, Australia and Canada in the WXV in New Zealand. The top six teams in the world – Grand Slam champions England and France – will also feature in the tournament.
The USA Eagles missed out on qualification for WXV by finishing behind New Zealand, Canada and Australia in the 2023 Pac Four Series.
This will be a real Test for us against USA and we will find out where we stand after a really tough pre-season. The USA beat us last time out and beat the Wales U20s in the summer.
The @BBCSport @bbcrugbyunion fixture list for Saturday includes men’s games from the Tennents Scottish National League 3 & the Admiral Welsh Division 1 but doesn’t feature women’s internationals Scotland v Spain and Wales v USA. This is bare minimum for visibility & respect pic.twitter.com/qc8qlgcC8K
— Rhona And The Whales (@RhonaLloyd96) September 27, 2023
Cunningham said: “We have worked hard all summer and the benefits of a proper preparation time have proved really invaluable but there is no substitute for playing a Test match.
“As coaches and players, we will find out where we stand against the USA before we head to the WXV1 in New Zealand in October.
“The coaches have been impressed with Carys Cox since she joined us this summer and she deserves her opportunity to make her Wales debut.
Nel Metcalfe was one of the Wales U20s to join us in the extended WXV training squad and she has impressed us all in training and is a player of real potential.
Wales name strong side for WXV warm-up vs USA on Sat as Jasmine Joyce, Donna Rose and Alisha Butchers all return.
Official WXV Wales squad announcement due next week.
— Katie Sands (@KESands) September 28, 2023
“We are delighted to welcome back Jaz and Donna and they have brought real experience and a competitive edge to training. To have them back in the Wales squad is a real boost after being unavailable last season.
“The USA missed out on qualification for WXV1, but they are a side packed full of experience and will feel they have a point to prove against us and we are expecting them to be a major challenge for us ahead of what awaits us in New Zealand.
Wales WXV Fixtures
Canada v Wales, Saturday, October 21st, Sky Stadium, Wellington (KO: 4pm local time)
New Zealand v Wales, Saturday, 28th, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin (KO: 4pm local time)
Australia v Wales, Friday, November 3rd, Go Media Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland (KO: 7pm local time)
Wales Women v USA Women, Saturday 30 September, Stadiwm CSM, KO 2.30pm:
15 Jasmine Joyce
14 Lisa Neumann
13 Hannah Jones (Capt)
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 (Vc)
16. Kelsey Jones
17. Abbey Constable
18. Donna Rose
19. Kate Williams
20. Sioned Harries
21. Meg Davies
22. Lleucu George
23. Nel Metcalfe*
Read more about Jaz Joyce