Wales' Thomas doubt

Click to follow

reports from Johannesburg

Welsh rugby will will start over once again in Witbank today but, as ever, the dawning of a new era will be fraught with problems.

A stress fracture of the foot threatens to put the Bridgend centre Gareth Thomas, one of the acknowledged rising talents of the Welsh game, out of the two-match South African tour.

As if that was not bad enough for the caretaker coaching and managerial team, their first opposition, South Eastern Transvaal, are on something of a roll, with 11 successive wins since losing a friendly early in the season.

Impressive stuff, albeit in Section C of South African rugby, yet enough to make it difficult to predict a Welsh victory.

While Easterns credentials are easy to examine, little is known about the new-look Welsh side. There are 11 players in the side who were not included in the World Cup squad and six who will be making their debuts in the senior shirt.

According to the former Welsh captain, Ieuan Evans, who sits out the game with John Davies and Neil Jenkins, it is time to look forward. "The good thing about these younger players is that they aren't carrying any excess baggage from less successful times," Evans said.

WALES (v South Eastern Transvaal, Witbank, today): J Thomas; A Harris, G Jones, M Taylor, S Hill; A Williams, P John (capt); A Lewis, G Jenkins, L Mustoe, D Jones, P Arnold, A Gibbs, C Wyatt, M Bennett.