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Rees-Zammit left out and Faletau recalled for Wales' England clash

By PA
(Photo by Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images)

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Wales boss Wayne Pivac has left out wing Louis Rees-Zammit and recalled number eight Taulupe Faletau for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against England.

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Rees-Zammit is replaced by a fit-again Josh Adams, with Alex Cuthbert retained on the other wing and set to win his 50th cap.

Faletau makes his first Wales appearance for 11 months, having proved his fitness following a long-term ankle injury by playing in Bath’s last two Gallagher Premiership matches against Wasps and Leicester.

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He returns in a reshaped back-row, with Ross Moriarty switching to blindside flanker and Taine Basham lining up at openside. Jac Morgan, who made his Test debut against Scotland 12 days ago, is on the bench.

Pivac has retained Owen Watkin and Nick Tompkins as his centre combination, while there are call-ups among the replacements for Ospreys fly-half Gareth Anscombe, Scarlets scrum-half Kieran Hardy and Dragons prop Leon Brown.

Players with English clubs are released back to them if they are not involved in a Wales matchday 23, so Gloucester star Rees-Zammit will be available for the Premiership appointment with Leicester on Saturday.

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He is one of the most exciting players in European rugby, collecting four tries during last season’s Six Nations and being picked for the British and Irish Lions’ South Africa tour.

The 21-year-old has carved out a reputation for scoring dazzling solo tries, which he underlined with a breathtaking touchdown against Fiji during this season’s Autumn Nations Series.

But Cuthbert shone against Scotland, while Adams, who missed that game due to a calf muscle problem, has repeatedly excelled for Wales, with 17 tries in 36 Tests.

Faletau’s most recent Wales outing was against France in the final game of last season’s Six Nations tournament.

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Pivac said: “We are very pleased to have the experienced Toby (Taulupe) Faletau back.

“He has trained well during the week and got 80 minutes under his belt last week. From our point of view, he brings a lot of experience.”

On the wing selections, Pivac added: “I am really pleased for Alex Cuthbert to get 50 Tests for his country. It is a massive achievement.

“And it is also great to have Josh Adams back from injury. They are two good players.

“That means Louis Rees-Zammit is the unfortunate one this week that misses out.

“But we have looked at the opposition we’re playing and niggly injuries that players pick up from time to time, and we think that in this particular match, the way the game will go, that Alex and Josh are the right selection.”

Wales have not beaten England in the Six Nations at Twickenham since 2012, and both teams need a victory to keep alive their title aspirations.

“They will be tough opposition – they always are – and both teams are still in this competition, so there is a lot at stake,” Pivac said.

“We had a great result against them last year, but we are going to have to play very, very well to get the same result this year.”

Wales team to play England at Twickenham on Saturday.

L Williams (Scarlets); A Cuthbert (Ospreys), O Watkin (Ospreys), N Tompkins (Saracens), J Adams (Cardiff); D Biggar (Northampton, capt), T Williams (Cardiff); W Jones (Scarlets), R Elias (Scarlets), T Francis (Ospreys), W Rowlands (Dragons), A Beard (Ospreys), R Moriarty (Dragons), T Basham (Dragons), T Faletau (Bath).

Replacements: D Lake (Ospreys), G Thomas (Ospreys), L Brown (Dragons), S Davies (Cardiff), J Morgan (Ospreys), K Hardy (Scarlets), G Anscombe (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets).

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