North was withdrawn from Wales’ last fixture – an agonising 21-16 loss to England at Twickenham – on the day of the game, having failed to overcome a leg injury he suffered in the round-one fixture against Italy.
However, the 24-year-old was expected to return for Saturday’s clash with Scotland and his inclusion – at the expense of the much-criticised Cuthbert – was confirmed when Howley announced his team earlier than scheduled on Wednesday. Cuthbert has not even made the bench this week.
Wales are also boosted by Luke Charteris’ availability. The experienced lock has been named among the replacements after missing his side’s first two Six Nations matches with a hand injury.
Taulupe Faletau, who made his comeback from a knee problem as a substitute against England, will also have to be content with a place on the bench, after Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty were retained as the starting back-row combination.
— Welsh Rugby Union ? (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 22, 2017
“We have been able to select from a position of strength which is a huge positive and it is good to welcome George [North] back into the starting XV and Luke [Charteris] on to the bench,” said Howley.
“In terms of intensity and performance, we stepped up a level against England and we need to take the positives from that performance and take it into 80 minutes against Scotland at Murrayfield.
“We know what we are capable of and we want to deliver that on Saturday alongside the result, which international rugby is all about.”
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Sam Davies, Jamie Roberts.
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