Jamie Roberts joked that he is “still waiting for the call” from Warren Gatland to join up with the British and Irish Lions ahead of the imminent squad expansion, but added that he believes the touring side can genuinely upset the All Blacks.
Roberts missed out on selection in Gatland’s squad and is unlikely to be one of those named among the five or six players that the Lions head coach will add following Saturday’s match against the Maori All Blacks, given he is the stand-in captain for Wales on their two-Test summer tour.
Wales opened their account with a straight-forward 24-6 victory over Tonga here at Eden Park, with an Alex Cuthbert try in the first half followed by a penalty try in the final minute to add to the 14 points scored by fly-half Sam Davies.
However, attention quickly turned to Gatland’s actions over the next 48 hours, with the likelihood being that interim Wales coach Robin McBryde will head to Samoa next Friday without at least one of two players.
“I'm still waiting for the call,” said a grinning Roberts, a veteran of the 2009 and 2013 tours. “If we lose some then we do and we have to adapt. We have a squad of 32 and nine players missed out today.”
McBryde added: “We’ll have to wait and see how the boys rock up tomorrow and obviously how the Lions play tomorrow as well, so we’ll just wait for that phone call.
“We weren’t short-sighted enough to think that we would come all the way to the other side of the world and not support the Lions if the call comes and that’s what it is. We are one of the nations that are involved in the British [and Irish] Lions so if we can support them then we’ll help them out.”
Wales never trailed in their opening summer Test against Tonga, with a first-half Davies penalty quickly followed by Cuthbert’s chip and chase try. The former Lions wing was forced off at half-time with a shoulder injury, suffered while diving for Gareth Anscombe's kick early in the first half.
McBryde's side dominated but failed to convert their superiority into points, and a second successful penalty from scrum-half Sonatone Takulua four minutes after the restart reduced the lead to 8-6.
However, Wales began to make the most of the atrocious conditions in the second half, with three further penalties from Davies building a healthy lead before the Welsh pack drove over the line for a penalty try in the final minute.
Tonga: David Halaifonua; Nafi Tu’itavake (Kiti Taimani, 71), Siale Piutau, Vili Tahitu’a (Kali Hala, 61), Cooper Vuna; Latiume Fosita, Sonatane Takulua; Latu Talakai, Paula Ngaumao, Ben Tameifuna (Sila Puafisi, 57); Leva Fifita, Sitiveni Mafi; Dan Faleafa, Nili Latu, Valentino Mapapalangi.
Replacements not used: Suliasi Taufalele, Phil Kite, Sione Tau, Mike Faleafa, Leon Fukofuka.
Wales: Gareth Anscombe; Alex Cuthbert (Cory Allen, h-t), Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, Steffan Evans; Sam Davies, Gareth Davies (Aled Davies, 71); Nicky Smith (Wyn Jones, 79), Kristian Dacey (Ryan Elias, 59), Tomas Francis (Dillon Lewis, 79); Seb Davies, Cory Hill; Aaron Shingler, Thomas Young (Ellis Jenkins, 59), Josh Navidi (Ollie Griffiths, 79).Reuse content