Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde and team manager Alan Phillips have reported back from a fact-finding mission in Canada to confirm summer tour fixtures with the Cannucks on 30th May in Toronto and against the USA in Chicago on 6th June.
McBryde will take charge of Wales in the absence of head coach Warren Gatland, who will be on British Lions duty in South Africa, and he has been joined by Phillips to fine-tune arrangements for the tour which he says will present a stern test for a potentially youthful squad.
"Only this time last year we were coming back from the World Cup with our tail between our legs," said McBryde, speaking in Toronto. "So we know that in rugby things can turn around pretty quickly and I think they've got the basic ingredients here in Canada.
"Obviously they need to strengthen their player depth ectetera. but they've got quality coaches and quality players."
Wales will defend the RBS Six Nations title in the New Year and are currently riding the high of an impressive 21-18 win over Australia that wrapped up their Invesco Perpetual Series of internationals in November.
Canada, in contrast, are coming off a tough trip to Europe that included losses of 41-0 to Scotland, 55-0 to Ireland and 34-13 to Wales as well as a 21-13 win over Portugal.
But Phillips, pointing to a Welsh autumn schedule that included losses to New Zealand (29-9) and South Africa (20-15) as well as the wins over Australia and Canada, says that experience will pay off for Canadian rugby in the years to come.
"We have to play those nations to get better," he said. "So the (Canadian) tour in November, although the results didn't all come off, it will have got the boys together, they will be better rugby players for it. And when we come out here, we expect a very tough game."
Wales, currently ranked fifth in the world by the International Rugby Board, take on No. 15 Canada at York University in Toronto before heading to Chicago to play the 19th-ranked U.S. Eagles a week later in Chicago.
"Canada have got a bit more time on their side now to get together and work the guys," added McBryde, who expects to take around 26 players to North America and is promising a strong squad.
"They'll be playing at home and the temperature and the weather will have an effect as well. So it will be a stern challenge. We certainly won't be taking it too lightly."
"We take advantage of all the time we can get with the players because the international windows are quite small. We found that out to our detriment this autumn.
"So any time we can get the guys together, we've got to make that productive time. Albeit it's at the end of the season we're coming here but we will be looking to put in good performances all round."
Phillips, like McBryde a hooker who won 18 caps for Wales between 1979 and 1987, has fond memories of Canada. He scored his lone try as an international at the 1987 World Cup in a win over Canada. But on a cold day in the Ontario capital, he spoke warmly about the Canadian people.
"I get quite excited when I come back to Canada because I think it's an absolutely wonderful country," said Phillips. "The people are very generous and friendly, very enthusiastic.
"It's not just about the Test match on the one day, on the Saturday.
"We're here for a full week, so we're going to try and support grassroots rugby in whatever way we can in that week."
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