Phillips makes eight changes for Hong Kong Test

Wales Women head coach Rowland Phillips is looking to show off his side’s strength in depth as they face Hong Kong on Friday night.

Wales Women head coach Rowland Phillips is looking to show off his side’s strength in depth as they face Hong Kong on Friday night.

There will be eight changes to the starting XV that beat South Africa 19-5 last Saturday, including a debut for Gwen Grabb in the second row alongside Mel Clay at Cardiff Arms Park.

Alicia McComish makes her first international start at inside centre and Lisa Neumann starts on the left wing.

Full back Lauren Smyth, who made her Wales debut aged 17 last weekend, keeps her place along with fellow backs Jasmine Joyce, Alecs Donovan and outside-half Robyn Wilkins.

Manon Johnes, another 17-year-old, will win her second cap at blindside flanker after coming off the bench early last Saturday for her debut.

She will join the back-row pair of Beth Lewis, who retains her place on the openside, and No.8 Sioned Harries who will captain the side.

Elsewhere in the pack Cara Hope, Kelsey Jones and Cerys Hale form a completely new front row.

And Phillips admits he is looking to develop players and help build the depth of his squad before the Women’s Six Nations in February.

“There is no chance of us underestimating Hong Kong,” he said.

“However, we are maximising the opportunity of an intense international period to build strength in depth as we build towards the Six Nations.

“We’re pleased with last weekend’s performance, especially with how the girls fronted up physically and defensively and there is plenty to build on.

“We had four first caps against South Africa and they all get a chance to build on that experience on Friday.

“It was pleasing to see Lauren adapt her skillset to international rugby and Manon, who came on earlier than expected showed what she is capable of.

“Sioned is an experienced player and captained the Scarlets in the recent regional programme so while it’s a young squad, there is a spine of experience too.

“It’s outstanding to have this three-Test series to try things out and take the knowledge into the Six Nations.

“We were buoyed by a great crowd last Saturday, it would be good to have the same vocal support again on Friday night to kick off the international weekend.”   Wales line-up: 15. Lauren Smyth; 14. Jasmine Joyce, 13. Alecs Donnovan, 12. Alicia McComish, 11. Lisa Neumann; 10. Robyn Wilkins, 9. Ffion Lewis; 1. Cara Hope, 2. Kelsey Jones, 3. Cerys Hale, 4. Gwen Crabb, 5. Mel Clay, 6. Manon Johnes, 7. Bethan Lewis, 8. Sioned Harries (capt)

Replacements: 16. Carys Phillips, 17. Caryl Thomas, 18. Amy Evans, 19. Natalia John, 20. Siwan Lillicrap, 21. Keira Bevan, 22. Hannah Jones, 23. Jess Kavanagh