10:20am Monday 28th May 2012
By Iwan Gabe Davies
WHILE the pre-match hype ahead of Saturday’s game centres around two Wales legends coming to the end of their time, Martyn Williams winning his 100th cap and Shane Williams bowing out of the game playing for the Barbarians, Will Harries looks to resurrect his international career.
A serious knee injury kept the Newport Gwent Dragons wing out of the game for nearly a year but the flyer has impressed once again since making his comeback for the region in December.
The 25-year-old has been rewarded for his good form with a return to the Wales squad ahead of their game with the Baa-Baas at the Millennium Stadium this weekend.
With Wales flying out so many of their frontline players to Australia ahead of that game so that they will be kept in reserve to face the Wallabies in June 9’s first Test in a three-match series, Harries is a very good bet to win his third cap.
The 5ft 8in and 14st 11lb speedster belongs to the Shane school of wingers and is likely to get a chance to show that Grand Slam champions Wales don’t just have giants like George North and Alex Cuthbert in their attacking armoury.
Speaking about overcoming his injury and his Wales call-up, Harries said: “Last year was the first big injury I’d had and I just tried to look at it positively so that when I came back I would be flying.
“I got my head right and I used the time to work on my conditioning and other aspects of my game. “My first goal after coming back was to play well for the Dragons and finish the season well. I just wanted to start playing again.”
Harries, who won his first cap on Wales’ tour of New Zealand two years ago when he came on as a late replacement for Dragons new boy Tom Prydie during a spirited 29-10 defeat in the second Test, aims to seize his chance with both hands.
“The call-up for Wales has been a massive bonus – now hopefully I can play against the Barbarians and then try and get on the tour of Australia,” Harries said.
“I only had the last half of the season so it would be good to get another game under my belt, and if I play all right in that then hopefully I will be going on the tour.
“I’m just keeping my head down and training well to try and get in that team and see what happens after that.”
Harries’ last cap, and his first start for Wales, came when they lost 25-16 to the Wallabies at the Millennium Stadium in November 2010.
The home team, despite dominating possession, mangled the Australia scrum and the narrow losing margin, came a very second best that day. That was largely due to a masterly display from the visitors’ backs, including a sublime performance by Kurtley Beale at full back – the Melbourne Rebels star was tipped to start at outside-half against Wales because of an injury to James O’Connor and Quade Cooper just back from his own serious knee problems.
Beale could be a doubt now however after he suffered a shoulder injury playing for the Rebels on Saturday.
And Harries thinks Wales will give them a sterner Test this June than they did in 2010.
“Australia like to play with quick ball, and like all southern hemisphere sides, are tough to play against,” he said.
“But watching Wales playing in the World Cup and in the Six Nations, we should be more of a match for them than the last time I played. I think it’ll be interesting.”
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