Wainwright ruled out of Wales match in Melbourne

Men’s international friendly: Australia v Wales

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne Date: Saturday, 13 July Kick off: 10:45 BST

Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website and app, plus live text commentary, followed by report and reaction on the BBC Sport website and app.

Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright will miss the second Test against Australia in Melbourne after suffering a hamstring injury.

Wainwright was Wales' leading performer during his 50th international in the 25-16 first Test defeat in Sydney but limped off in the final minute.

The 26-year-old has started the last eight Tests in the number eight jersey and arguably been Wales' player of the 2023-24 season.

Wainwright will miss the beginning of the new season with Dragons and faces a battle to be fit for Wales' autumn internationals against Fiji, South Africa and Australia in November.

Flanker James Botham was the back-row replacement in Sydney and favourite to replace Wainwright, while Mackenzie Martin is the other specialist number eight in the squad.

Wales also have concerns over full-back Liam Williams, prop Gareth Thomas and wing Josh Hathaway, while prop Dillon Lewis and lock Ben Carter are battling to be fit after missing the the game in Sydney.

Cardiff full-back Cameron Winnett and Scarlets prop Kemsley Mathias are in line to start if Williams and Thomas are ruled out.

Warren Gatland's side are looking to end an eight-match international losing streak that stretches back nine months.

Wainwright, Williams and Thomas accounted for more than half the caps in the Wales starting side for the first match of the series.

"I think you trust the squad," said Howley.

"We've picked them to come here and give them an experience of Test match rugby.

"If one of them is unfortunate not to be available for selection, we back whoever will step in.

"Over the period of time in the Six Nations, we've made changes. Self-belief and confidence is huge when there's a lack of experience because of age.

"At 22 or 23, you give them that opportunity to go out and perform.

"There's a balance, but hopefully the players are available and we have a consistent selection because it's a short tour."