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North returns for Wales squad to South Africa

George North scores against France in 2019

George North is set to make his international return after being named in the Wales squad for their tour to South Africa this summer.

The Wales centre missed the entirety of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations after suffering a serious knee injury at the tail end of the 2020/21 season.

But North has since made his return to action for the Ospreys and takes his place in the 33-man squad that will travel to take on the world champions in a three-Test series this summer.

North’s Ospreys teammate Dan Lydiate is also back in the squad after recovering from injury, with Dan Biggar set to continue as captain.

That is despite the fact that Alun Wyn Jones is part of the squad, with Pivac keen to ease the responsibility on the world’s most capped player as he comes back from a long lay-off of his own.

Pivac said: “We’ve had some players come back from injury like George North so that’s exciting for the squad. Some players have been ruled out through injury, so there’s naturally going to be change there. Then we’ve looked at players’ form, who we are playing, where we’re playing – we have two games at altitude – and what our gameplan will be when considering selection.

“Dan Biggar is named captain. We’ve obviously got great leadership in the group with Alun Wyn and Dan. Dan did well in the Six Nations and Al has come back from a pretty big lay off. He’s had a little bit of rugby and we want him to hit his straps as a second row and be the best player he can be and focus on playing. He’ll lead naturally anyway but certainly he’s looking forward to that challenge.

“This three-Test Series is going to be a challenge. It always has been, history shows that and certainly that’s what we’re looking to achieve – to get a victory there if not two and win a series. The first two Tests at altitude that’s going to be a challenge, so first and foremost we’ve got to do a lot of preparation here in Wales before we go and make sure we are in the best shape possible to perform well.”

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Elsewhere there are two uncapped players in the squad, back-row duo James Ratti and Tommy Reffell.

Pivac added: “I spoke to Tommy Reffell before we announced the squad for the Six Nations. We looked hard at Tommy and decided to leave him out then. He’s played very well since, he’s been very consistent – one of the most consistent players in the English Premiership – so we feel that he deserves an opportunity and he will be well tested on this tour.”

WALES SQUAD FOR SOUTH AFRICA TEST SERIES

Forwards (19)
Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 16 caps)
Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 43 caps)
Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 10 caps)
Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 27 caps)
Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 5 caps)
Sam Parry (Ospreys – 5 caps)
Leon Brown (Dragons – 22 caps)
Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 64 caps)
Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 38 caps)
Adam Beard (Ospreys – 34 caps)
Ben Carter (Dragons – 6 caps)
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 150 caps)
Will Rowlands (Dragons – 18 caps)
Taine Basham (Dragons – 10 caps)
Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby – 89 caps)
Dan Lydiate (Ospreys – 65 caps)
Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby – 30 caps)
James Ratti (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – uncapped)

Backs (14)
Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 67 caps)
Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 11 caps)
Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 33 caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 31 caps)
Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 100 caps) Captain
Rhys Patchell (Scarlets – 21 caps)
George North (Ospreys – 102 caps)
Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 20 caps)
Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 31 caps)
Johnny Williams (Scarlets – 5 caps
Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 39 caps)
Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 51 caps)
Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 16 caps)
Liam Williams (Scarlets – 78 caps)