Wales aim to shine in US heatwave

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Wales coach Mike Ruddock is confident his second-string team will continue his country's resurgence against the United States in Hartford tomorrow.

Wales coach Mike Ruddock is confident his second-string team will continue his country's resurgence against the United States in Hartford tomorrow.

Wales have won their last six Tests, including the five that secured an historic Grand Slam in this year's Six Nations Championship, Wales' first for 27 years.

But Ruddock is without many of the team that beat Ireland on that memorable day in Cardiff three months ago - Brent Cockbain, Adam Jones, Ryan Jones, Kevin Morgan and tour captain Mark Taylor being the only survivors.

Nevertheless he remains confident his younger players will help Wales build up a head of steam before the autumn internationals.

"Despite losing 10 players to the Lions and others to injury, we have picked a strong, experienced side with just one new cap, Matthew Rees," said Ruddock.

"It is important we have a strong backbone to the side in order to build on our recent performances and we will look to gain a balance in the team during the tour."

Llanelli Scarlets hooker Rees, 24, is the only new name in the team but Ruddock has a further four uncapped players on the bench, including 23-year-old England-born prop Ben Broster of Saracens.

In contrast, Taylor will become the 15th player in Welsh rugby history to win 50 caps for his country when he leads the team out at Rentshler Field.

"We will be trying out a lot of new combinations and seeing how certain players react to the Test environment," said Ruddock.

"That means every player now has a huge chance to impress ahead of what is going to be a very important season for Wales when we defend our Six Nations title."

Wales take on an Eagles team that has recalled four players to add experience to their pack and must also cope with the sweltering temperatures expected in north-east America this weekend.

Eagles coach Tom Billups has a new second-row partnership of Alec Parker and Brian Surgener while hooker Matt Wyatt and scrum-half Doug Rowe also come into the side that are now 15th in the world rankings following their 28-22 victory over Romania a fortnight ago.

"We have done our homework on the American team and the conditions so we are ready for the challenge," said Ruddock.

"America are a very settled team with some exciting runners behind including Francois Viljoen, Mike Palefau, Paul Emerick and Mike Hercus. They have a very big, aggressive pack and, with (Cardiff Blues number eight) Kort Schubert as captain, they will know a lot about the Wales team."

Billups, who enjoyed a spell as player in Wales with Pontypridd, said: "We were pleased with our victory over Romania but we know we will have to be far more precise in our understanding and execution against a far stronger opponent in Wales.

"They play a very exciting game and it will be up to us to match that. We aim to be able to compete with the top nations but we are under no illusions as to the size of the task."

USA: F Viljoen; M Palefau, P Emerick, A Tuipulotu, D Fee; M Hercus, D Rowe; M MacDonald, M Wyatt, C Osentowski, A Parker, B Surgener, A Ryland, T Clever, K Schubert (capt). Replacements: M Griffin, M French, M Managan, T Petruzzella, P Galicz, S Sika, M Sherman.

Wales: K Morgan; R Williams, M Taylor (capt), C Sweeney, C Morgan; N Robinson, M Phillips; D Jones, M Rees, A Jones, B Cockbain, L Charteris, J Thomas, C Charvis, R Jones. Replacements: R Thomas, B Broster, I Gough, R Pugh, A Williams, M Watkins, T Selley. Referee: C Joubert (South Africa).