Rees warns Welsh what to expect

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Rugby Union

Gareth Rees has warned Wales not to expect an easy ride when they embark on their six-match tour of north America today. Rees, the captain of Canada who played a major role in Wasps winning the Courage League title last season, predicts a tough time for the Welsh.

"Both the USA and Canada are capable of one-off upsets," said Rees. "I am confident we are capable of beating Wales and the Eagles are coming on fast and are a well organised side. Their players are very athletic and aggressive and their big tackling is a real weapon in their game."

The Cardiff flanker Gwyn Jones, who has taken over the Welsh captaincy from his club-mate Jonathan Humphreys, leads a 30-player squad missing 21 leading names - the eight who travelled to South Africa with the Lions and 13 others out injured for the trip that includes two Tests against the United States and one against the Canadians.

While the Eagles have never beaten Wales, Canada performed the feat at Cardiff Arms Park in 1993 with a Rees-inspired 26-24 victory. "We are coming off the back of the six-match Pacific Rim series and those six matches mean we will never have been better prepared," added Rees.

Wales travel with nine uncapped players with youngsters such as Pontypridd pair Kevin Morgan and Gareth Wyatt given the chance to enhance burgeoning reputations.

"I didn't expect to be touring with Wales just a couple of months after my 20th birthday. It has been an unbelievable season for me," said the full-back Morgan. "We all know that we have the chance to impress but that it is going to be tough without so many of our established internationals."

Scotland will also be hoping for big performances from their less experienced players for tonight's game against the Gauteng Falcons in Brakpan after losing three key members of their tour party.

Craig Chalmers, Rowen Shepherd and Ian Smith are all out, but the Scotland coach, Graham Hogg, said: "We probably have just enough experience for tonight with five capped players in the side.

"That was about the maximum we could afford with the big match against Northern Transvaal coming up on Friday. But we will expect the youngsters to step up a level. That is why they were selected for this tour."

Hogg confirmed that the players with stomach bugs, Derrick Lee and Andy Lucking, will definitely take the field against the Falcons. He added: "They are perhaps not 100 per cent. But if they don't last 80 minutes we can always substitute."

Scotland have two of their capped players in the front row to counter the presence in the Falcons team of former Springbok heavyweights Ian Hattingh, and the infamous Johan le Roux, the player accused by Sean Fitzpatrick of biting the New Zealand captain's ear.

After being on the receiving end of hard forward play in their game against Gauteng Lions last Friday, the Scots will look to be dominant in the front line battle. "We will seek to get early control up front and then move the ball wide. That is the kind of game that we want to play but it will depend on the forwards," said Hogg, who is optimistic his young side can win.

Argentina suffered further humiliation yesterday on their tour to New Zealand when the lowly First Division provincial side Taranaki beat them 26-10 in New Plymouth.

WALES SQUAD (tour to North America): Backs: M Back (Swansea), K Morgan (Pontypridd), W Proctor (Llanelli), G Wyatt (Pontypridd), N Walker (Cardiff), D James (Bridgend), G Thomas (Bridgend), L Davies (Cardiff), N Boobyer (Llanelli), J Lewis (Pontypridd), A Thomas (Swansea), L Jarvis (Cardiff), P John (Pontypridd), A Moore (Richmond). Forwards: C Loader (Swansea), I Buckett (Swansea), L Mustoe (Cardiff), C Anthony (Swansea), G Jenkins (Swansea), R McBryde (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Harlequins), S Moore (Swansea), M Voyle (Llanelli), N Watkins (Neath), A Gibbs (Llanelli), N Thomas (Bath), R Appleyard (Swansea), G Jones (Cardiff, capt), S Williams (Neath), C Wyatt (Llanelli).

SCOTLAND (v Gauteng Falcons, tonight, Brakpan): D Lee (London Scottish); A Stanger (Hawick), C Murray (Hawick), J Mayer (Watsonians), S Longstaff (Dundee HSFP); S Nichol (Melrose), G Burns (Watsonians); D Hilton (Bath), S Brotherstone (Melrose), B Stewart (Edinburgh Academicals), S Murray (Bedford), A Lucking (Currie), C Mather (Watsonians), P Walton (Newcastle), N Broughton (Melrose). Replacements: C Joiner (Leicester), D Hodge (Watsonians), G Beveridge (Boroughmuir), S Campbell (Melrose), G Graham (Newcastle), G Bulloch (West of Scotland).