2:21pm Friday 28th March 2014
WALES will take a large squad to South Africa after setting up a midweek fixture against Eastern Province Kings ahead of the first Test against the Springboks, writes Chris Kirwan.
Warren Gatland's men will take on the Currie Cup outfit at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, June 10 (kick-off 6pm).
Four days later the first team, most of whom will not be risked in midweek, will lock horns with South Africa in Durban.
"It's great that we are able to confirm a midweek fixture against the Eastern Province Kings in addition to our two test matches," said Gatland, who had mooted the idea of a pre-tour probables v possible trial game.
"The match in Port Elizabeth will allow us to get a game under our belts at the start of what will be a very tough tour and help us hit the ground running.
"We will be looking to take a slightly bigger squad and this gives us the opportunity to look at everyone and give the whole squad game time which is important ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.
"It is an important tour for us and this game will give us the best start before the Tests against the Springboks."
Most of Gatland's squad will be heading to South Africa well rested but lacking in game time as the Ospreys are the only region that have a chance of being in the RaboDirect Pro12 final on May 31.
The Aviva Premiership ends at Twickenham on that day with George North's Northampton, Paul James' Bath and Owen Williams' Leicester all in the running for the title.
Racing Metro, who boast Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips and Dan Lydiate in their ranks, are unlikely to make the playoffs in France's Top 14.
Wales tour fixtures:
Tuesday, June 10: Eastern Province Kings v Wales, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday, June 14: South Africa v Wales, Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Saturday, June 21: South Africa v Wales, Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
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