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NZ-born backs Johnny McNicholl and Willis Halaholo selected for Wales


New Wales coach Wayne Pivac has picked New Zealand-born backs Johnny McNicholl and Willis Halaholo in his first squad to face the Barbarians.

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Halaholo, 26, opened up about his rugby journey from Invercargill to Wellington and winning a Super Rugby title. Source: 1 NEWS | Sky

McNicoll and Halaholo, who qualified through the residency rule, are among five uncapped players in the squad for the match in Cardiff on November 30.

The 35-man group for the non-cap match includes 22 members of the Rugby World Cup squad that finished fourth in Japan earlier this month.

However, captain Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out injured, while England-based players Dan Biggar and Rhys Carre were unavailable for selection as the game falls outside the designated test window.

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NZ Rugby threatened formal action after players including Willis Halaholo were spotted without mouthguards last weekend. Source: 1 NEWS

"It is great to get the squad announced and get the ball rolling on our first meet-up and first fixture next week," Pivac said.

"This Barbarians game is a great chance for us as a new squad and management to get together and to set the scene for what we are looking to do. Having this opportunity ahead of tournament rugby in the Six Nations is ideal for us."

Former Scarlets boss Pivac will face a Barbarians side coached by his Wales predecessor Warren Gatland, whose 12-year stint with the national team ended after the World Cup ahead of taking charge of the Chiefs in his native New Zealand.