Wayne Pivac has made nine changes to his starting Wales XV to face France in Paris on Saturday in a match that will see skipper Alun Wyn Jones equal the world record for Test appearances and includes possible Test debuts off the bench for Sam Parry and Louis Rees-Zammit.
It’s seven months since Wales lost to England at Twickenham, their third loss in four Six Nations games under new boss Pivac, and the side selected for their warm-up against the French is much-changed from that London outing.
With Hadleigh Parkes having ended his Test career with his club switch to Japan, fit-again Jonathan Davies comes into a midfield where Nick Tompkins will switch to Parkes’ vacated inside centre berth.
Rhys Webb will also start at scrum-half in place of the injured Tomos Williams, while the third backline change is Josh Adams coming onto the wing for Liam Williams, who will feature for Scarlets in the PRO14 this weekend.
There are six changes to the starting pack: Rhys Carre for Rob Evans, Ryan Elias for Ken Owens, Samson Lee for Dillon Lewis, Cory Hill for Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright for Ross Moriarty and Taulupe Faletau for Josh Navidi. Skiopper Jones and Justin Tipuric are the only two repeat starters from Twickenham in the forwards.
Punching tighthead still in favour https://t.co/A3wNfnFzk4
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Wales boss Pivac said: “The players are excited, it has been a long time, we can’t wait for Saturday. We have six matches this autumn and the game against France helps us get back into our stride international rugby-wise. We have picked an experienced side and are up against a good French team so we want to start this autumn well and get on the front foot for the Guinness Six Nations fixture against Scotland.
“We have talked already about how fortunate we are to be going about our work on a daily basis. A lot of people can’t do that and certainly, within our organisation, there are a lot of people not back at work. From our point of view this Saturday is an opportunity to prepare for this tournament and for Scotland, but two, to put some smiles on faces and put on a good performance and make the nation proud.”
In reference to Jones’ Test milestone, Pivac added: “It’s a fabulous achievement. He epitomises what a great rugby player is all about. He is a true professional on and off the field and a gentleman of the game. On the field, he leads by example and you can’t ask more of your captain and we are very privileged here in Wales to have him.”
WALES (vs France, Saturday)
1. Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues, 8 Caps), 2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets, 13 Caps), 3. Samson Lee (Scarlets, 41 Caps), 4. Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues, 25 Caps), 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, 138 Caps) (CAPT), 6. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons, 21 Caps), 7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, 76 Caps), 8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath, 76 Caps), 9. Rhys Webb (Ospreys, 33 Caps), 10. Dan Biggar (Northampton, 83 Caps), 11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues, 24 Caps), 12. Nick Tompkins (Dragons, 4 Caps), 13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets, 81 Caps), 14. George North (Ospreys, 95 Caps), 15. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets, 89 Caps).
Replacements: Sam Parry (Ospreys, Uncapped), Nicky Smith (Ospreys, 35 Caps), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues, 26 Caps), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues, 7 Caps), James Davies (Scarlets, 8 Caps), Gareth Davies (Scarlets, 53 Caps), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets, 19 Caps), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester, Uncapped).
Quality insight from @SimonZebo on RugbyPass Offload this week to chat through his Heineken Champions Cup Final.
+ Six Nations Preview, Bledisloe and @DylanHartley on how Eddie Jones picked his squad ?
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