Munster wing Howlett, who was capped 62-times by New Zealand, joins fellow countryman Carl Hayman in a squad which also boasts France and Toulouse outside half Frederic Michalack, Italy hooker and former captain Leonardo Ghiraldini and Samoan lock Iosefa Tekori, it was announced today.
Ulster No 10 Ian Humphreys, the brother of retired Irish international David, takes the traditional mantle of the uncapped player in the Baa-Baas squad.
Sale Sharks scrum half Dwayne Peel, Scarlets prop Iestyn Thomas and Cardiff Blues lock Paul Tito add a unique Welsh dimension to the Barbarians squad, alongside the much publicised inclusion of Blues flanker Martyn Williams, with Peel very much vying for a place in Wales coach Warren Gatland’s Rugby World Cup squad and Thomas and Tito also touted as contenders in some quarters.
Thomas, now 34, has appeared 33 times for Wales and won his last cap in the RWC warm-up match against England at Twickenham in 2007 and Tito would qualify for Wales on residency if he was able to or had the inclination to catch the selectors’ eyes.
“At 34 Iestyn is not to old to prove he still has what it takes to play at international level and we will be keeping a close eye on him,” said Gatland.
“The Barbarians are assembling an impressive squad, they have a long list of quality international players now with the likes of Howlett, Hayman, Michalack and Sergio Parisse in their number.
“We are looking forward to an exciting, free flowing Test match and we want to put the pressure on and play with tempo and intensity.
“The conditions at the moment will lend themselves to that kind of game and we should have similar weather and hard grounds in New Zealand for the World Cup so it will give us a good indication of how the players are going to fare.”
Gatland has spoken of his interest in seeing Cardiff Blues team-mates Williams and Sam Warburton, who will captain Wales, go head-to-head in this match, but he says he is also keen to witness the three scrum halves on show – Peel, the Ospreys’ Mike Phillips and Scarlet Tavis Knoyle – and see how they match up.
“You definitely get something different when you see players go head-to-head in this way in a proper Test match,” added Gatland.
“It’s something that you only normally see in derby games but on the international stage it should have an extra edge to it as well.
“With Martyn (Williams) and Sam (Warburton) both at the same region we haven’t had a chance to see them play against each other before and this is definitely a chance for Dwayne to show us what he can do.
“We were disappointed that we weren’t allowed to pick him ourselves and it is fantastic that he now does have the opportunity to play in this game and impress.”
Peel’s former Scarlets team-mate and Wales and British and Irish Lions half back partner Stephen Jones is another member of the squad intrigued by the scrum half’s selection for the Barbarians.
Jones is a long time friend, colleague and business partner of Peel but he has never faced him on a rugby pitch and he says he is very much looking forward to it.
“The banter has started already and we have already exchanged a few text messages,” said Jones.
“He has warned me not to run down his channel during the game, but I’ve pointed out that I was there when he made his one and only proper tackle many years ago and I wasn’t impressed.”
Tickets remaining for the summer RWC warm-up fixtures against the Barbarians and England at the Millennium Stadium are priced at £40 and £30 for adults, £100 for a family ticket (2 adults 2 children) for the Baa Baas game and £110 family ticket for the England match, with a new category introduced this season of £15 for the under 18s enclosure.
The final game on homes soil against Argentina is priced at £30 and £20 for adults, £70 for a family of four and £15 for the under 18s enclosure.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.wru.co.uk/tickets or by calling the ticket hotline 08442 777 888.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.
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