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Tom Rogers Given Chance To Stake World Cup Claim As Wales Play It Safe

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By David Williams

Tom Rogers has become the latest addition to the Wales starting XV to face the world champions Springboks in the final game in the Vodafone Summer Series.

The Scarlets back three player has been brought off the replacements bench to take the place of Alex Cuthbert. Louis Rees-Zammit has been brought into the matchday 23 to take over from Rogers.

Rogers will win his fourth cap in a revamped back division that has seen Cai Evans replace Liam Williams at full back and Sam Costelow come in for Dan Biggar at outside half. The back line now boasts 39 caps, with 17 of them belonging to scrum half Kieran Hardy.

All three changes are precautionary, and Warren Gatland confirmed that everyone is expected to be fit for he first game at the World Cup against Fiji in Bordeaux on Sunday , 10 September.

“The changes won’t affect the balance of the side at all. We’ve got some people coming in who are extremely excited to get another chance,” said Wales forwards coach Jon Humphreys.”

We see it as an extremely exciting opportunity for us. We’ve worked very hard over the last 13-14 weeks and now it is the last chance for everyone to put their hand up and say ‘I want to be in the World Cup’.

“The Springboks are a hell of a test, especially up front, and they are a great team to play against because you know exactly what’s coming. We’ve played them a fair few times over the last four years, and we’ve always enjoyed the physical confrontation that we know is going to come.

“It’s a great test for a pretty inexperienced team and we are thoroughly looking forward to it. It was really frustrating last week at Twickenham.”

We weren’t where we wanted to be in the game, but we were still fighting in the last 15 minutes. We coughed up possession in a way we don’t normally do in those situations – it was a game we felt we should have won.”

Cardiff Rugby props Cory Domachowski and Keiron Assiratti will win their second caps against the infamous ‘Bomb Squad’ in the South African front row. Steve Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe can boast 197 caps between them, while the Welsh trio, with 42-times capped Elliot Dee between the two Cardiff men, have 44 caps between them.

“It is not a gamble in our minds. We have 12 players in the front-row position, and Gats said from the start that everybody will have an opportunity,” added Humphreys.

“We need to find out about people, and this is the biggest opportunity of people’s lives. We’re not just giving them caps, they have earned it over the last 13 or 14 weeks.

“Some of the boys in that front row have changed their lives. Not just being selected here, they have changed their lives in how they have eaten, trained and gone about their business.

“These boys are going to be the future for us and we are going to find out on Saturday how far they have come along the path.”

Dee is looking forward to making his first start since July 2021 and can’t wait to take on the full might of the Springboks pack. With selection for the World Cup in France due to be settled over the weekend – the formal announcement is on Monday – he is relishing the opportunity to once again push his claim.

“It’s brilliant to be able to play against what is perceived to be the best front-row int h world, so we are excited by that and looking forward to getting stuck in,” said Dragons hooker, Dee.

“It’s great playing with the two Cardiff boys. They have surprised a lot of people by coming in and showing what quality players they are. They are proud Welshmen.

“It has been great to form a friendship first and then a working relationship with them. Things have gone really well over the last 13 or 14 weeks.

” A lot of hard work has been put in by those people and they have impressed and hopefully tomorrow they can show what they are about.”

Meanwhile, Nigel Owens warned rugby union is in “big trouble” if Owen Farrell’s dangerous tackle against Wales is no longer regarded as worthy of a sending off.

The England captain faces an independent disciplinary panel on Tuesday after World Rugby, the sport’s global governing body, appealed against the decision to downgrade his red card for a high shoulder-led challenge on Taine Basham to yellow.

The original hearing’s overturning of the in-game decision made by the bunker review system during England’s 19-17 win over Wales at Twickenham last weekend sparked uproar throughout the global game as Farrell escaped a ban that would have threatened his involvement in next month’s start of the World Cup in France.

Such a suspension is again a possibility and former number one referee in the world Owens, in charge of 100 Tests from 2003 to 2020, is adamant Farrell should be punished for the tackle.

“Owen Farrell is a great player who I have a huge amount of respect for,” Owens wrote in his Wales Online column published Friday.

“But he has a history of making this kind of tackle. He’s been punished before and perhaps got away with a couple too.

“The referee and everybody at home watching the game would have been looking at that incident and going through their checklist.

“Do we have foul play? Yes, we do. Do we have contact with the head? Yes, we do. Do we have a high degree of danger? Yes, we certainly do. Do we have mitigation? In my view, no we don’t.

“I don’t think there was any late change from Basham which Farrell could not adjust to, he was the only player contributing to the action of the tackle.”

World Rugby’s own guidelines state there is no mitigation for “always illegal acts of foul play”, with Owens saying: “The key thing about mitigation here is that Farrell’s actions were always illegal.

“No matter what happened, he was always leading with the shoulder and not making an attempt to wrap for a legal tackle — so mitigation does not and should not play a part in the decision.

“This is foul play, it’s an illegal charge, it’s not an accident. He’s always leading with the shoulder, he’s made contact with the head and, sorry, he’s got to take the consequences.

“Quite simply, if we don’t deal with actions like this as a red card offence, then the game is going to be in big trouble moving forward.”

The Six Nations, which oversees disciplinary procedures for warm-up matches involving leading European countries, said later Friday that Farrell’s new hearing would be held on Tuesday.

Nigel Hampton KC, a senior lawyer from New Zealand, will chair a three-strong panel also featuring Singapore’s Shao-ing Wang and Ireland’s Donal Courtney.

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