WALES boss Warren Gatland has reiterated the importance of his younger players grasping their summer chance in the build-up to next year’s World Cup.

After finishing second in the Six Nations, Wales will attempt to keep building in June against South Africa in Washington then two encounters with Argentina.

Gatland will leave a number of his leading players behind this summer, notably those that toured New Zealand with the Lions last year.

And those that travel need to impress the management given that there are just 16 games between now and their World Cup opener against Georgia, which is followed by pool clashes with Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

“We have laid out our ambition to go to Japan and to be successful in 2019 and this summer is another important step on that path,” said head coach Gatland.

“We believe we have a squad that are capable of doing very special things. If you look at the age-profile of the squad and the international test experience we will have in 2019, we are excited about what we can do.

“We have put together a structure that will provide the squad with the very best preparation and we are continuing to build really well.

“This summer, going to Washington to face the Springboks and then down to a hot-bed of rugby for two tests in Argentina will be a great experience for the squad, especially some of the younger players.

“Last autumn, the Under Armour Series was about building our squad depth, and providing opportunities for players to experience test match rugby.

“We then moved into a tournament rugby phase in the Six Nations, which tested the squad in another way.

“This summer is about the players experiencing quality opposition, on the road, and continuing to develop.

“Some more experienced players, especially those who have played a lot of rugby in the past 12 months, and didn’t get a proper pre-season last year, will be given the summer off, to allow them to get a decent block of rest in before a full pre-season this time around and going into a Rugby World Cup year, that will be huge for them.

“For the players on tour it’s a chance to build their experience and to grab the opportunity with both hands and when they get their hands on the jersey not to let it go.”