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Wales make four changes, including a recall for Josh Navidi

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Wales boss Wayne Pivac has named a starting XV to face France on Friday that shows four changes from the Guinness Six Nations round three 23-19 defeat to England on February 26 – but finds room to keep Tomas Francis and Josh Adams in the team despite their respective head knocks sustained in London. The sole alteration in the backline sees Jonathan Davies restored to the midfield in place of Nick Tompkins who picked up a concussion last Saturday playing for Saracens.

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There are then three changes to the pack, two in the back row where Josh Navidi is included at the expense of Taine Basham following a five-month layoff with a shoulder injury and a year without a Test match appearance. Meanwhile, regular club lock Seb Davies has been named at blindside in place of the benched Ross Moriarty.

The remaining Wales alteration is at loosehead where Gareth Thomas is promoted to start in the Six Nations in place of Wyn Jones. Among the replacements, Dillon Lewis returns as tighthead cover and Louis Rees-Zammit is also named.

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Le French Rugby Podcast – Episode 19
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Regarding the inclusion of Francis and Adams to start despite their head knocks in the loss to England, the Welsh Rugby Union stated: “Francis and Adams have been managed clinically by Wales medical personnel in following all of the required return to play protocols, as specified in the World Rugby regulations. Having suffered no adverse reactions and no complications in successfully completing each stage of the return to play protocols, both are available for selection.”

Pivac said about his XV changes: “Josh is a fantastic player and has played well for us in the past. He has come back before straight back into the side so having 80 minutes under his belt for Cardiff we think that is enough for him and we look forward to him being back out there bringing that experience. He is a very good player and has played at this level on many occasions so that’s going to be great for us.

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Seb at six just gives us a little bit more size. It helps the lineout, but also in the wider channels where he often runs he has got the skillset to trouble a few defenders out wide. I think Gareth made a really big impact for us last week as did a number of players and so he gets to start. Wyn will finish the game this time as opposed to starting it.

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“France are the in-form team in the world at the moment. Any team that can score 40 points against New Zealand plus having recently beaten Ireland in this competition are going to be hard to beat. They have players a number of world-class players and are a big side that will test us physically and at the set-piece.”

WALES (vs France, Friday)
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets – 77 caps)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 50 caps)
13. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 29 caps)
12. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets – 95 caps)
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 37 caps)
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 98 caps), captain
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 32 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 8 caps)
2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 26 caps)
3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 63 caps)
4. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 16 caps)
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 32 caps), vice-captain
6. Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 15 caps)
7. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby – 28 caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby – 87 caps)

Replacements
16. Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 3 caps)
17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 41 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 36 caps)
19. Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 52 caps)
20. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 2 caps)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 9 caps)
22. Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 30 caps)
23. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 14 caps)

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