Rugby League convert Regan Grace gets shock Wales call-up for Australia tour

Former rugby league star Regan Grace has been named in Wales’ 34-strong squad to tour Australia.

Grace, who has only played two senior games of union for his club Bath, recently linked up with Wales’ training group after Ospreys wing Keelan Giles suffered a groin injury and was ruled out of the three-match trip.

Grace, who scored 89 tries for St Helens during a league career that saw him feature in three Grand Final-winning teams, is under contract with Bath until the end of next season.

Regan Grace was a prolific try-scorer in rugby league
Wales have called up Regan Grace after just two senior games of rugby union (Mike Egerton/PA)

He switched codes in 2022 but ruptured his Achilles tendon ahead of joining French Top 14 club Racing 92 and he did not feature for them at all after suffering an injury relapse six months later.

The 27-year-old then linked up with Bath to continue his rehabilitation and he played in friendlies earlier this year against Leinster and Gloucester as he returned to full fitness.

Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys has described Grace as an “X-factor” player and he will now travel Down Under, with Wales facing Tests against Australia in Sydney on July 6 and Melbourne seven days later, followed by an appointment with Queensland Reds.

Grace is among three uncapped players in the tour party, being joined by Gloucester back Josh Hathaway and Cardiff hooker Efan Daniel.

Injuries have hit Wales boss Warren Gatland’s plans, with Giles, hooker Elliot Dee and flanker Jac Morgan having been ruled out before Saturday’s Twickenham clash against South Africa that the Springboks won 41-13.

And Gatland has now lost tighthead props Keiron Assiratti and Henry Thomas, with Assiratti suffering a back problem during the Springboks encounter and Thomas missing that game because of a foot injury after originally being selected to start.

Bath’s Archie Griffin, Dillon Lewis and Harri O’Connor will fill the tour berths in that position, while hooker Dewi Lake, who led Wales against South Africa, will be tour captain.

Lake has been chosen for the role ahead of Six Nations skipper Dafydd Jenkins, who was among a sizeable contingent of England-based players unavailable to face the Springboks as that fixture fell outside World Rugby’s summer Test window.

Gatland said: “I am excited about this Wales squad. We know Australia is a tough place to go and play rugby, but we are relishing the challenge.

“We are expecting two fiercely-contested Test matches and we are also pleased to be able to play a third fixture against the Queensland Reds.

“We are focusing on getting better as a group. This is a young squad that is still learning at this level.

“There are lots of positives and good things that we can build on from the weekend and there are also areas that we will be working hard to address over the next few weeks.”

It will be Wales’ first tour to Australia for 12 years and they have not beaten the Wallabies Down Under since 1969, losing 11 successive Tests.

Squad: Backs – E Bevan (Cardiff), G Davies (Scarlets), K Hardy (Scarlets), S Costelow (Scarlets), M Grady (Cardiff), E James (Scarlets), B Thomas (Cardiff), N Tompkins (Saracens), O Watkin (Ospreys), R Dyer (Dragons), R Grace (Bath), J Hathaway (Gloucester), L Williams (Kubota Spears), J Beetham (Cardiff), C Winnett (Cardiff).

Forwards – C Domachowski (Cardiff), K Mathias (Scarlets), G Thomas (Ospreys), E Daniel (Cardiff), D Lake (Ospreys, capt), E Lloyd (Cardiff), A Griffin (Bath), D Lewis (Harlequins), H O’Connor (Scarlets), B Carter (Dragons), C Hill (Secom Rugguts), D Jenkins (Exeter), M Screech (Dragons), C Tshiunza (Exeter), J Botham (Cardiff), M Martin (Cardiff), T Plumtree (Scarlets), T Reffell (Leicester), A Wainwright (Dragons).