Playing in front of fans ‘massive’ for Wales, assistant coach insists

Six Nations champions ready to launch summer series of Tests.

Pa Sport Staff
Thursday 01 July 2021 16:07

Jonathan Humphreys says playing in front of home fans again will be “massive” for Wales when they launch their summer international series against Canada.

On-going restrictions mean that a capacity attendance of just 8,200 can attend Saturday’s encounter at the Principality Stadium.

But it is the first time since Wales hosted Guinness Six Nations opponents France more than 16 months ago that supporters have been allowed in to watch them on home turf.

“It is massive for us,” Wales assistant coach Humphreys said. “You go back to the autumn, and we were playing outside of the stadium (in Llanelli) because it (Principality Stadium) was a field hospital.

“Then we had the buzz of the Six Nations, because just going back to the Principality Stadium to even train was a big thing.

“Now, with crowds, 8,000 people will still make a lot of noise for us. I don’t think (uncapped Wales lock) Ben Carter has played a senior rugby match in front of a crowd! I am happy there are 8,000, and hopefully we will get back to a lot more than that very quickly.”

Carter and fellow newcomer – Scarlets wing Tom Rogers – will make their Test debuts against a Canada side that last played during the 2019 World Cup.

And while Wales are without 10 players on British and Irish Lions duty in South Africa, there is still considerable experience offered by the likes of skipper Jonathan Davies flanker Ross Moriarty and full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who makes his 100th Test appearance for Wales and the Lions.

“Jon has been brilliant,” Humphreys added. “As a young kid coming in for your first cap, with him captaining the team, he has had a really good influence on that.

“I am sure he will be disappointed to miss out (with the Lions), but you don’t see that around the group. It has not been mentioned, and it has not affected him in the way he trains and prepares.

“He will know that you are an injury away from being called up and being a big part of that Lions series.

“But you wouldn’t know that here. We’ve got Argentina after this game – three massive Tests in total – and he wants to be a winning captain in those three Tests.

“And for Ross, he was a big player for us in the Six Nations before last. He played really well for us, but he has picked up a few injuries along the way.

“He is a big player for us going forward, so to have him back around the group, he gives us a real physicality and we are hoping he goes well on the weekend.”

Carter, meanwhile, has been entrusted with calling Wales’ lineouts on his Test debut, and the 20-year-old has a big fan in Wales forwards specialist Humphreys.

“I’ve watched him over the last couple of months, and I have been really impressed with him,” Humphreys said.

“Physically, he can compete at this level, which is the first thing you look for. It has been a lot of learning for him – he is calling lineouts for us on his first cap, which is a big ask for him.

“But he has been really good and really diligent.”