Jac Morgan looks to pass the ball for Wales

Wales v Barbarians: Jac Morgan to be sole Wales captain against invitation club

Jac Morgan looks to pass the ball for WalesJac Morgan led Wales as they lost to Argentina in their 2023 World Cup quarter-final

Jac Morgan will be sole Wales captain when they host Barbarians in Cardiff on Saturday, 4 November.

At the 2023 World Cup, Morgan was co-captain with fellow Osprey Dewi Lake, but coach Warren Gatland has opted for one leader to face the invitation club.

Gatland has named a 23-strong squad with no players from outside Wales available.

He has called in seven players to add to 16 tournament survivors and said: “Our next World Cup cycle starts now.”

The encounter marks the start of an era of post-2023 World Cup transition for Wales.

Scarlets fly-half Sam Costelow is in pole position to claim the number 10 jersey for the long term.

With Dan Biggar retired and Gareth Anscombe Japan-bound along with injured full-back Liam Williams, Costelow has Dragons’ Cai Evans as his first rival for the fly-half shirt.

Gatland’s selection was restricted to Wales-based players because the game is taking place outside the agreed Test match window, so even if he were fit, Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit would be unavailable.

Likewise, Montpellier prop Henry Thomas and newly France-based Tomas Francis and Harlequins’ Dillon Lewis are unavailable.

Also unavailable are Exeter forwards Christ Tshiunza and Dafydd Jenkins, Leicester flanker Tommy Reffell and Racing 92 lock Will Rowlands.

Cardiff tight-head Keiron Assiratti and Dragons rival Leon Brown return to the Wales squad with the latter having recovered from a series of neck issues.

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Before announcing the squad, Gatland said Morgan and Lake “did outstanding jobs” in France.

He added: “Jac Morgan was absolutely outstanding. I saw some huge growth in him as a captain and a player. As a captain, he is only going to get better.

“It was a little bit tougher for Dewi Lake in only starting one game. He didn’t have as much responsibility, but he was fantastic in the way he supported Jac. I haven’t thought about what happens moving forward.

“At the time having two youngsters, who were accepted by an older group of players who they supported, fitted for us at the World Cup. It’s the first time I’ve done that, and I’m probably not in favour of doing that unless it is required again.

“We will probably go back to the one captain scenario.”

The Baa-baas side will include former Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones and be coached by New Zealand’s post-World Cup coach Scott Robertson and Australia boss Eddie Jones.

The broken arm Taulupe Faletau suffered as Wales beat Georgia in Nantes in the World Cup gives Aaron Wainwright another chance to press his case for the Wales number eight jersey in the long-term.

New Scarlets recruit Taine Plumtree – a potential Wales World Cup bolter before injury stymied his hopes – is back in contention in a back row pool that includes veteran Dan Lydiate.

Ospreys prop Nicky Smith, Dragons lock Ben Carter and Cardiff counterpart Teddy Williams are also called up.

In the backs, late Wales World Cup call-up Kieran Hardy takes over from injured fellow Scarlet Gareth Davies at scrum-half while another player from the west Wales region, full back or wing Tom Rogers, gets another chance to impress.

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Welsh Rugby Union interim chief Nigel Walker has admitted it was a mistake to allow Wales’ match against Barbarians to clash with the regional derby in which Scarlets host Cardiff – a game that kicks off an hour after the showpiece game in Cardiff.

Five players each from Cardiff and Scarlets are in the Wales squad.

Wales squad v Barbarians

Forwards: Corey Domachowski (Cardiff), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Dewi Lake (Ospreys), Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff), Leon Brown (Dragons), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Ben Carter (Dragons), Teddy Williams (Cardiff), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Jac Morgan (Ospreys, capt) Taine Plumtree (Scarlets), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons)

Backs: Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff), Sam Costelow (Scarlets), Cai Evans (Dragons), Mason Grady (Cardiff), George North (Ospreys), Johnny Williams (Scarlets), Rio Dyer (Dragons), Leigh Halfpenny (unattached), Tom Rogers (Scarlets).

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