It’s a massive game for both West Wales and North Wales on Sunday as they meet in a winner-takes-all clash at Tata Steel RFC on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
Both sides have recorded wins over East Wales in the last two weeks, meaning that whoever wins on Sunday will take the title.
It’s the fourth year that this has been a three-way series, with West still yet to lift the trophy since North were introduced in 2018. North Wales are the current holders after last year’s clean sweep.
For West to win the title, they’ll need to do what they haven’t achieved yet in history and that’s to beat North Wales, who have won all the last three encounters.
Both head coaches have named squads of 22 in preparation and there are seven potential changes to the West Wales side with Tyler Hopkins, Aaron Lewis, Dylan McLachlan, Conor O’Callaghan, Scott Whitlock and Iestyn Williams, all from Aberavon Fighting Irish and Jacob Purcell from Bridgend Blue Bulls all brought in. For all bar Lewis and Purcell, it will be their Origin debuts if selected.
West Wales head coach Dean Scully said: “I’m really looking forward to the game this weekend. We are in a different place going into our second game this year, as It’s all to play for. We will both fancy our chances and I hope it produces an action packed afternoon of rugby for everyone that attends.
“Selection this week has been tough, we have some of the lads back from injuries, and some that had stand out performances against East. When you break it all down I could have picked a 25 man squad with a few different starting lineups.
“The commitment from my guys over the last few weeks has been a credit to the squad as a whole and the standards that we have built. We have a young squad that we hope that will develop and thrive in this environment going forward.
“With that said I think I have assembled a squad capable of getting the result, and a first series win since 2015. We have prepared well this week and the team have my full trust to get the job done.”
North Wales head coach Simon Reynolds has named a squad that could have up to nine changes from the win over East Wales a fortnight ago. There are four potential Origin series debutants in Sam Chaloner, Richard Hillier-Evans, Evan Hughes and Cameron Long, whilst Brandon Lamb, a former East Wales representative, is also selected. Jamie Fozard, Callum Leonard, William Lynch and Edward Thompson could make their first appearances of this campaign.
Reynolds said: “After game one, we where pleased with where we were at. Game two is a totally different ball game though and we have to be on our guard.
“West Wales had a good win last week, they’re a really well-coached team through Dean Scully, so this week will be tough, he will have them ready to go to war with us for 80 minutes but we will be ready for that.
“We have a title to defend.”
West Wales (from): Lloyd Allen (c), David Felton, Lewis Francis, Tyler Hopkins*, Kieron John, Aaron Lewis, Dylan McLachlan*, Conor O’Callagan*, Jake Price, Scott Whitlock, Iestyn Williams* (all Aberavon Fighting Irish), Corey Harris, Ben Jackson, Lloyd Pritchard, Jacob Purcell*, Dylan Rees-Davies, Stuart Robson, Dylan Thomas (all Bridgend Blue Bulls), Lewys Blayney, Alex Burton (both Cynon Valley Cavaliers), Jack Griffiths, Chris Harris (both Rhondda Outlaws)
North Wales (from): Brandon Lamb (Bristol All Golds), Richard Hillier-Evans*, Sion Jones, Raymond Lear, Andy McLorie, Jonny Stokes, Kieran Thomas (all Conwy Celts), Jake Redmond (Crigglestone All Blacks), Billy Forrester, James Jackson, Callum Leonard, Cameron Long*, Alfie Matthias, Alex Prince (all Flintshire Falcons), Ryan Griffiths (Leigh East), Will Lynch (Leigh Miners Rangers), Sam Chaloner*, Jamie Fozard, Ben Stelmaszek (all Thatto Heath Crusaders), Edward Thompson (Wigan St Patricks), Evan Hughes*, Jonny Rae (Wrexham Crusaders)
Admission to the match is £5 adults, £3 concessions, free to U16s.