Pretorius handed Wales call-up
South Africa-born forward Andries Pretorius has been named in the Wales squad for this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.
The 27-year-old Cardiff Blues back-row forward is among five uncapped players selected in a 35-man group today by Wales interim head coach Rob Howley.
Pretorius, born in Nelspruit, qualifies on residency for Wales and became available for selection last month.
He is joined in the squad by his Blues back-row colleague Josh Navidi, Ospreys wing Eli Walker and lock James King, plus Newport Gwent Dragons second-row forward Andrew Coombs.
Wales have been particularly badly hit in the second-row department, with Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies currently unavailable to Howley and not named in his initial Six Nations squad.
Fly-half Rhys Priestland and prop Aaron Jarvis, meanwhile, are also injury absentees as Wales build towards the opening game of their Six Nations title defence against Ireland on February 2.
There are recalls for Clermont Auvergne full-back Lee Byrne, who has not featured in a Wales matchday 23 since the 2011 World Cup, and Exeter prop Craig Mitchell.
Star prop Adam Jones also returns after missing the entire autumn Test series this season because of injury and Howley will hope that some of his other injured contingent, including Dragons flanker Dan Lydiate, can play some part in the tournament.
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones is also named in the squad, although his participation against Ireland and then France seven days later is currently doubtful due to a dislocated thumb injury.
Pretorius apart, there are few surprises with the uncapped contingent.
Walker and Australia-born King have both been in outstanding form for the Ospreys, as has Coombs in Dragons colours and former Wales Under-20 captain Navidi for the Blues.
King has English parents, but he was initially brought up in north Wales and played for Mold Rugby Club.
Howley said: "We have put together a very experienced squad and complimented that by rewarding the in-form players with a call-up.
"The players in the squad have been playing really well, and we have been pleased with their individual performances.
"We have a group of players who know how to win big matches and have experienced success. We are adding to that players who have stood out and performed well for the regions this season."
Howley confirmed that former Wales wing Mark Jones will join his coaching team for the duration of the Six Nations.
Jones, who won 47 caps, will coach the backs after impressing in that role with the Scarlets.
Howley added: "Mark is an important addition to the coaching team.
"He has played the game at the highest level and developed his coaching skills during his time with the Scarlets.
"He is a 'hands-on' coach and understands how our environment works, which is important leading into the tournament.''
Wales squad for the RBS 6 Nations Championship:
Backs: L Byrne (Clermont Auvergne), Liam Williams (Scarlets), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), E Walker (Ospreys), G North (Scarlets), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan), D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne), T Knoyle (Scarlets), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues).
Forwards: S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), C Mitchell (Exeter), A Jones(Ospreys) P James (Bath), G Jenkins (Toulon), R Bevington (Ospreys), R Hibbard (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), M Rees (Scarlets), R Jones (Ospreys) L Reed (Blues), I Evans (Ospreys), J King (Ospreys), A Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Turnbull (Scarlets), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt) T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Pretorius (Cardiff Blues).