FORMER Liskeard-Looe Juniors forward Lloyd Fairbrother has been handed a shock debut by Wales for their match against the Barbarians at the Principality Stadium tomorrow (2.30pm).
The 31-year-old tight-head prop qualifies for Wales courtesy of his mother, who was born in Blaenavon. Prior to joining Newport Dragons, Fairbrother had spells at Exeter Chiefs, Cornish Pirates, Birmingham Moseley and Plymouth Albion.
Wales head coach Gatland has turned to Fairbrother due to his experience, with former Chief Tomas Francis, Henry Thomas and Dillon Lewis all unavailable, while Leon Brown and Keiron Assiratti are injured.
"When you look at the players we had unavailable to us and then losing Keiron and Leon this week, we’ve just gone with a bit of experience," said Gatland.
"Even though we have used the national team to develop players for the future, we didn’t feel that was the right decision to make for this game. We needed a little bit of experience. That’s why Lloyd’s come in to start there.”
It will be an uncapped international against a Barbarians team being led by former England and Australia head coach Eddie Jones.
Fairbrother lives in Pontypridd, having spent the past nine years at Rodney Parade, playing 166 games for the Dragons.
He quickly became a cult-figure at Rodney Parade, earning the nickname the 'Cornish Barrel', with his original mullet hairstyle at the time enamouring him to the supporters.
Fairbrother has been a consistent performer for the Dragons, and has shown great mental fortitude to bounce back from a ruptured Achilles in 2021 which kept him out of the game for nearly a year.