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Gatland: Wales need a hit out for brutal Boks

First published in Sport

WARREN Gatland said it would be "rugby suicide" if Wales didn't have a hit out before their Tests against South Africa, writes Chris Kirwan.

The May 30 probables against possibles trial at the Liberty Stadium will fill a void ahead of the June 14 clash with the Springboks.

Gatland wants his side to be battle-hardened before they take on a nation that vies with Samoa for the honour of being rugby's most physical side.

"A number of players haven't played a lot of rugby and if we didn't have this trial we would be going to that first match without a game for five weeks," he said.

"To do that against South Africa, particularly when they've got a game against a World XV (on June 7), would be rugby suicide.

"We need a hit out and we want to make sure this trial has real teeth."

Gatland intends to announce his 31-strong squad for South Africa after the post-trial meal, revealing it to the press as the same time as the players.

The coach is hopeful that Premiership Rugby, who have a board meeting next week, will allow Bath's Gavin Henson and Paul James, Bristol's Ryan Jones, Saracens' Rhys Gill, Northampton's George North and Leicester's Owen Williams to feature.

Gatland has selected six from Newport Gwent Dragons with number eight Taulupe Faletau, full-back/wing Hallam Amos and loosehead Owen Evans in the probables (although Evans is bench cover rather than a probable) and lock Andrew Coombs, wing/full-back Tom Prydie and loosehead Phil Price in the possibles.

The probables will wear red and the possibles white while players will not wear national kit for training and there will be no anthem at the Liberty Stadium. The referee will be Welsh and a television deal is being finalised.

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