Rugby Union: Howley hopes for a brighter tour future
Saturday 12 June 1999
Howley and summer tours have gone together like a dose of Montezuma's Revenge on the beach in Acapulco. Getting there has not been a problem; having a lovely time certainly has. Back in 1993, he was crocked on Wales' trip to Namibia and Zimbabwe, although he would probably not have been selected ahead of the incumbent Rupert Moon anyway. The summer scene passed him by for two years then, sandwiched between two Wales tours to the southern hemisphere, there was the pain of injury with the Lions in 1997.
A year earlier Wales, with Howley in the side, conceded 96 points in two Test defeats in Australia. In Pretoria last year, it was different. Wales conceded 96 points in one Test defeat, with a hamstrung Howley a helpless spectator in the Loftus Versfeld stands.
No wonder the man who today captains Wales for the 15th time in his 32nd international is hoping for a brighter future. And, ironically, the prime evidence is a run of four successive Wales wins on foreign soil. The bandwagon has rolled nicely from a thrilling victory in France, on to Italy, Wembley (at "home" against England) and, last Saturday afternoon, Buenos Aires.
Today Wales enter the Pumas' lair again, hunting a first Test series win in Argentina by a home union. "I haven't had a great time with tours," said Howley, "especially in the last three years. Hopefully this will be the first of many better ones. It's nice that we've got the carrot of a bit of history to go for and if we can win against Argentina we will be in top nick against South Africa in two weeks' time."
Lose and Wales will be reflecting on three defeats in five matches here. Win and Graham Henry's side will indeed receive South Africa a fortnight today in great heart. Two days later Henry will name his 30-man squad for the World Cup, with France, Canada and Romania pencilled in for warm- up Tests.
"The boys will be coming back to Cardiff and into the Millennium Stadium," said Howley. "It is on a lot of the players' minds now, what a great feeling it would be to be in that first Wales XV to run out at the new stadium. For me personally, if I'm captain, the first game there would be very precious."
Argentina, who lost the first Test 36-26 after leading 23-0, pin their hopes of a shared series on greater flexibility in the pack. The flanker Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe moves up to the second row, much as Chris Wyatt has done for Wales with notable results. The Pumas make six changes in all, including Felipe Contepomi for Gonzalo Quesada at outside-half.
For their part, Wales have restored Gareth Thomas, with 18 tries in 33 caps, to the right wing and dropped Colin Charvis from the back row in favour of Pontypridd's Geraint Lewis. For the historically accident-prone tourists, a welcome piece of history beckons.
WALES (v Argentina, second Test, Buenos Aires): S Howarth (Sale); G Thomas (Cardiff), M Taylor (Swansea), A Bateman (Northampton), D James (Pontypridd); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Howley (Cardiff, capt); P Rogers (Newport), G Jenkins, B Evans (both Swansea), C Quinnell (Cardiff), C Wyatt (Llanelli), G Lewis (Pontypridd), B Sinkinson (Neath), S Quinnell (Llanelli) Replacements: N Boobyer, S Jones (both Llanelli), D Llewellyn (Ebbw Vale), M Voyle (Llanelli), D Young, A Lewis, J Humphreys (all Cardiff).
ARGENTINA: D Albanese (SIC); O Bartolucci, J Orengo (both Atletico del Rosario), L Arbizu (Brive), G Camardon (Alumni); F Contepomi (Newman), A Pichot (Richmond); R Grau (Saracens), F Mendez (Northampton), M Reggiardo (Castres), P Sporleder (Curupayti, capt), I Fernandez Lobbe (Liceo Naval), R Martin (SIC), M Ruiz (Teque), G Longo (SIC) Replacements: O Hasan (Auch), M Ledesma (Curupayti), A Allub (Jockey Club), L Ostiglia (Hindu), J Cilley (SIC), J Fernandez Miranda, N Fernandez Miranda (both Hindu).
Latest in Sport
What time is the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble on? TV details and full card
Sam Burgess: Bath and England's next big thing
Australian Open 2015: Andy Murray gets his revenge over Grigor Dimitrov to face home favourite Nick Kyrgios
Brighton 2 Arsenal 3 player ratings: Did Tomas Rosicky's performance and goal make him man of the match at Amex Stadium?
Liverpool transfer news and rumours: Glen Johnson to stay; Fabian Delph move goes up in flames; Marc-Andre Ter Stegen for loan deal
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...