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Wales name three new caps versus England, with two more on bench

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Warren Gatland has named a Wales team to take on England this Saturday that includes three uncapped players in the starting XV and two more on the bench for a Rugby World Cup warm-up match in which veteran full-back Leigh Halfpenny will earn his 100th Test cap for his country.

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It was November 2008 against the Springboks in Cardiff when the 34-year-old made his debut and he will run out this weekend at the Principality in a team skippered by Jac Morgan that includes debuts for tighthead Keiron Assiratti, loosehead Corey Domachowski and centre Max Llewellyn.

Another prop, ex-England front-rower Henry Thomas, and back-rower Taine Plumtree are also in line to make their Wales debuts as they have been named on the replacements bench.

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Gatland, who will confirm his 33-strong squad on August 21 for the World Cup, said: “I have been really pleased with the players’ effort and commitment in Turkey, Switzerland and the mini-camps in Wales prior, but now it’s about putting what we have been training into practice.

“We are excited to get out on the pitch at Principality Stadium this Saturday – it’s always so special playing at home in front of our amazing fans.

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“There is some great competition among the squad in all positions and we have selected a team this week with a few debutants because we want to give them the opportunity to see what they can do. There is a lot to play for over the next three matches and everyone is still in contention to make that final squad for France.”

Regarding Halfpenny’s milestone appearance, Gatland added: “I’d like to make a special mention for Leigh Halfpenny who will win his 100th cap for Wales. Reaching this milestone is an incredible achievement and a testament to the player and person Leigh is. I know it will be a very special day for him and all his family.

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“There are some tickets still available this weekend and we would encourage as many fans as possible to come down to celebrate Leigh’s achievement with us and see the new players making their Wales debuts.”

On the captaincy, Gatland said: “We have named Jac as captain for this match and it is a great honour for him to be leading his country. We will be looking at probably having a different captain for each of the matches as we give as many as possible in the squad an opportunity to impress, but also be mindful of potential combinations as we get closer to naming the World Cup squad.”

Wales (vs England – Saturday, 5:30pm)
15. Leigh Halfpenny (unattached – 99 caps)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 25 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 113 caps)
12. Max Llewellyn (Gloucester Rugby – uncapped)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 7 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 2 caps)
9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 67 caps)
1. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 33 caps)
3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 6 caps)
5. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 23 caps)
6. Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs – 5 caps)
7. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 9 caps, captain)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 37 caps)

Replacements:
16. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 41 caps)
17. Nicky Smith (Ospreys – 42 caps)
18. Henry Thomas (Montpellier – uncapped)
19. Ben Carter (Dragons – 9 caps)
20. Taine Plumtree (Scarlets – uncapped)
21. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 45 cap)
22. Dan Biggar (Toulon – 107 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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