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Six changes for Wales including a new cap No8 and two bench rookies

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

Wayne Pivac has named a Wales team showing six changes to play Georgia this Saturday, including a debut at No8 for Josh Macleod following last Saturday’s successful war of attrition 20-13 victory over Argentina in Cardiff. There are also two uncapped players named on the bench, Dafydd Jenkins and Dane Blacker selected.

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This weekend’s game is the third in this November’s four-match schedule for the Welsh and the head coach has taken the opportunity to rotate his XV prior to the series final on November 26 at home to Australia, making three changes each to his starting backs and forwards.

In the backs, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams and Rhys Priestland are included in place of Nick Tompkins, Rio Dyer and Gareth Anscombe while in the pack, Ben Carter, Jac Morgan and Macleod are chosen in place of Will Rowlands, Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

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A WRU statement read: “Josh Macleod is in line to become the 1,182nd Wales senior men’s international having been selected at No8… On the Wales bench, there are two more players in the frame to make their senior international debut with Dafydd Jenkins, who joined Wales camp on Monday as an injury replacement, and Dane Blacker selected.

“Bradley Roberts is named as the replacement hooker and Taulupe Faletau provides the back row cover. Sam Costelow, who won his first cap against New Zealand on November 5, and Leigh Halfpenny are the other replacement backs.”

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Pivac said: “Josh Macleod is a player that’s been really unfortunate in the past. We have wanted to use him on a couple of occasions, so this is very much the third time lucky for him. He covers the back row. We know a lot about him, I have coached him at the Scarlets. He brings a lot of energy, he is very strong over the ball and, in tandem with Jac Morgan, that will hopefully be a strong part of our game on the weekend.

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“We’re looking forward to seeing him go at this level and seeing the physicality that he will bring. The spine of the team is there. It’s very much about the here and now, we have got a game to play against Georgia and we have to be successful. But there is also an eye to the Australia match.

“Dafydd Jenkins is a young player that we have had an eye on for quite some time now. He has done well with the U20s and is doing very well at Exeter Chiefs. Talking to Rob Baxter, he is very happy with what Daf is doing. Daf captained that side last week so his leadership is valued and already in camp for a very short time he has picked everything up very quickly.

“We are excited to see him go. There are not many players like him in Wales and he is definitely a player for the future and one that we think this is the opportunity to have a look at him. Georgia are a side that will be not too dissimilar to Argentina in terms of the forward play, they’re very strong up front. Traditionally they have been good in the set piece, good driving lineout and very physical.”

Wales (vs Georgia, Saturday)
15. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 21 caps)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 53 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 107 caps)
12. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 35 caps)
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby 42 – caps)
10. Rhys Priestland (Cardiff Rugby – 54 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 38 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 15 caps)
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets – 84 caps)
3. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 43 caps)
4. Ben Carter (Dragons – 7 caps)
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 39 caps)
6. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 4 caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 87 caps) captain
8. Josh Macleod (Scarlets – uncapped)

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Replacements:
16. Bradley Roberts (Dragons – 2 caps)
17. Rhodri Jones (Dragons – 22 caps)
18. Sam Wainwright (Saracens – 3 caps)
19. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – uncapped)
20. Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 93 caps)
21. Dane Blacker (Scarlets – uncapped)
22. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 1 cap)
23. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 96 caps)

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