Wales have named their side to take on Italy in their final Autumn Nations Cup fixture in Llanelli on Saturday, an XV that includes a recall for George North. He is one of nine changes from the loss to England, four of them in the backline.
Liam Williams starts at full-back in place of Leigh Halfpenny in a back three also containing Louis Rees-Zammit and Josh Adams.
Kieran Hardy and Callum Sheedy start at half-back together for the second time this campaign, with Johnny Williams partnering North in the midfield. North’s last start at centre was Wales’ 42-0 victory over Italy in the Guinness Six Nations last February. Louis Rees-Zammit, Josh Adams and Liam Williams comprise the back three.
Nicky Smith, Sam Parry and Tomas Francis comprise an all-change front row, with Parry making his first start for Wales after three appearances from the bench. Will Rowlands partners Alun Wyn Jones in the second row with James Botham lining up alongside British and Irish Lions duo Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau in the back-row.
“Saturday is another opportunity for these players and for us as a squad, it is another opportunity to continue to build and to see the results of all the hard work in training,” said head coach Wayne Pivac. “We have blooded eight new caps this campaign and importantly by the end of the match, each of them would have had a number of appearances to their name.
"I’m watching him referee the scrum, it was nothing worse than shocking"
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“From the outset we wanted this campaign to be about giving players an opportunity and we have done that. The hard work in training is coming through and we want to show that again on Saturday and finish the campaign on a high, with the performance and result we want.”
On the bench Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Leon Brown provide the front-row cover. Cory Hill and Aaron Wainwright complete the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Ioan Lloyd and Jonah Holmes are named as the backline replacements.
WALES (vs Italy, Saturday)
1. Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (37 Caps)
2. Sam Parry (Ospreys) (3 Caps)
3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (51 Caps)
4. Will Rowlands (Wasps) (4 Caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (142 Caps) (CAPT)
6. James Botham (Cardiff Blues) (2 Caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (79 Caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath) (80 Caps)
9. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets) (1 Cap)
10. Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears) (3 Caps)
11. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester) (3 Caps)
12. Johnny Williams (Scarlets) (2 Caps)
13. George North (Ospreys) (97 Caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (29 Caps)
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets) (66 Caps)
16. Elliot Dee (Dragons) (32 Caps)
17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (29 Caps)
18. Leon Brown (Dragons) (11 Caps)
19. Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues) (28 Caps)
20. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (26 Caps)
21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (56 Caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Bristol Bears) (1 Cap)
23. Jonah Holmes (Dragons) (4 Caps)
With NH Test rugby under fire for lack of entertainment, England assistant John Mitchell has recalled how 'style of play' used to be a part of his Super Rugby job performance review #AutumnNationsCup #ENGvFRA
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 2, 2020
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