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Rookie named in midfield as Pivac's Wales make six team changes

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

Wayne Pivac has named a Wales team to take on the Wallabies that has six changes – including a midfield Test debut for Joe Hawkins – from the XV that lost 12-13 to Georgia last Saturday in Cardiff. Hawkins will start at No12 in place of Owen Watkin, who has a knee injury.


The three other backline changes see Leigh Halfpenny named for a first start since the summer of 2021. He is promoted from the bench to fill the No15 shirt left vacant due to the game falling outside the agreed November Test window, a regulation that ruled out last weekend’s starter Louis Rees-Zammit.

There are also alterations at left wing and out-half with Rio Dyer and Gareth Anscombe named in place of benched duo Josh Adams and Rhys Priestland.

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In the pack, Alun Wyn Jones is recalled at the expense of Ben Carter, who drops to the bench, while Taulupe Faletau is also back at No8 for his 100th Test appearance (95 Wales, 5 British and Irish Lions). Like Carter, Josh Macleod slips to the replacements.

Pivac said: “The whole squad is extremely disappointed with last week’s performance. It’s not the result that anybody wanted. It’s not the result that anyone expected. We have gone through a review process. We know what went wrong and what is required to get the result this weekend.


“There has been an injury to Owen Watkin which gives an opportunity to young Joe Hawkins. He is obviously very excited. He has been in camp training for the last month and learning a lot and he has looked good in training so he gets an opportunity.

“Some players have come back that were not involved last week. Certainly, it’s a side we have selected to get a result that we are desperately seeking. They have gelled well at the start of the week and we look forward to seeing how we go.


“Clearly this will be a step up – we are playing an Australian side that will have a lot of changes for probably similar reasons to ourselves over the last month or so with injuries, but what we do know about Australia is that they’re a dangerous side whatever team they put out. We have seen that with the close games in this autumn series. So we are expecting a very, very tough battle.”

Wales (vs Australia, Saturday)
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 97 caps)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 54 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 108 caps)
12. Joe Hawkins (Ospreys – uncapped)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 2 caps)
10. Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 34 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 39 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 16 caps)
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets – 85 caps)
3. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 44 caps)
4. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 40 caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 154 caps)
6. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 5 caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 88 caps) captain
8. Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 94 caps)

16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 32 caps)
17. Rhodri Jones (Dragons – 23 caps)
18. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 66 caps)
19. Ben Carter (Dragons – 8 caps)
20. Josh Macleod (Scarlets – 1 cap)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 15 caps)
22. Rhys Priestland (Cardiff Rugby – 55 caps)
23. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 43 caps)


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