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Prop Thomas and back row Thomas will both start the game in the capital while Lewis and Hale are named among the replacements for the game at Cardiff Arms Park (kick-off 11.30am). 

It is the biggest autumn series to date for Wales Women – they also face Hong Kong (November 16) and Canada (November 24) – and comes on the back of a ramped up regional programme designed to improve conditioning, skills and match performances.

Wales Women head coach Rowland Phillips has named a strong side for the opening November challenge, with one uncapped player, Ospreys full back Lauren Smyth in the starting line-up and three – Manon Johnes, Ffion Lewis and McComish on the bench. 

“Playing three autumn Tests is a serious statement of intent with regards to the continued development of Welsh women’s rugby,” said dual code international Phillips. 

“On the back of the last Women’s Rugby World Cup, we highlighted the need to play more competitive rugby and gain more profile for the women’s game and we had the full backing of the Welsh Rugby Union in putting together a full autumn campaign.

“Women’s rugby in Wales is growing, many young girls now have an ambition to play to a high standard, inspired by former and current internationals and it’s no surprise that the most successful international teams have a large playing base to support that. 

“We want to help make those connections and it’s great to see girls who play in the girls’ clusters around Wales will be part of Saturday’s match.”

Phillips added: “All players involved on Saturday have come through the recent regional pre-season and competition phase which has already produced some obvious results in terms of physical gains and improvements in performance.

“However, we are in the business of preparing teams for international rugby so the true test of the programme will be in our performances over the next three weeks.”

Phillips also had praise for uncapped Dragons ace McComish adding: “Alicia’s situation shows how the programme has helped us widen the net at this level.

“She had previously been involved with Wales Sevens but impressed during the programme, she brings a great attitude and it’ll be exciting to see her develop.”

“We know that South Africa are a good, powerful side who have made significant progress recently. It’s a great opportunity to play these matches as part of the international weekends in Cardiff.” 

Wales Women: Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Alecs Donnovan (Ospreys), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Jess Kavanagh (RGC); Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons),Carys Phillips (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Dragons),Sioned Harries (Scarlets)

Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Natalia John (Ospreys), Manon Johnes (Blues), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Alicia McComish (Dragons),Lisa Neumann (RGC)

Tickets £5 adults, all concessions including students and senior tickets £1, available from Cardiff Blues ticket office by clicking HERE

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Saturday January 26



Rodney Parade, Newport

KO 3:00 PM

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