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Backline boost for Wales

Tue, 26 Nov 2013 14:29
Alex-cuthbert-wales-celebra Alexcuthbertwallabies
They bring a lot of experience into the backline
Quote-end

Wales backs Alex Cuthbert and Scott Williams have returned from injury to be named in the starting line-up for the Test against Australia on Saturday.

Williams has recovered from a toe injury to be named in the midfield against the Wallabies and will line-up alongside Cardiff Blues centre Owen Williams, who scored on his first outing at the Millennium Stadium last Friday.

Cuthbert will play his first part in year-end Tests after successfully recovering from injury. The British and Irish Lions wing has been working closing with the WRU and Cardiff Blues medical teams which has ensured an optimal return.

Cuthbert, who has scored nine tries in his 18 appearances for Wales, will line-up in an experienced back three with George North and Cardiff Blues' Leigh Halfpenny.

At halfbacks, Dan Biggar and Mike Phillips continue their partnership which has seen them feature six times together this year.

Gethin Jenkins, who became a centurion on his last outing for Wales a fortnight ago, returns with Richard Hibbard to the front-row. Rhodri Jones will start his third consecutive game at tighthead.

British and Irish Lions lock duo Ian Evans and Alun Wyn Jones, who started all five of Wales' 2013 Six Nations games together, renew their partnership in the second row.

The loose trio will line up with Dan Lydiate at blindside, alongside captain Sam Warburton at openside and Toby Faletau at No.8.

"It's great to have Alex and Scott available and they bring a lot of experience into the backline," said Wales coach Warren Gatland.

"Alex and the medical teams have worked really hard to ensure he is ready for this weekend and it's great to be able to bring him back into the side.

"We thought Owen (Williams) performed well in the centre against Tonga and he gets another opportunity on Saturday.

"There is a lot of experience in the pack for what is going to be a very physical game. We are looking to finish the series off well, the last three games against Australia have gone right down to the wire and I don't expect anything different this weekend."

On the bench Scarlets scrumhalf Rhodri Williams who made his debut as a second-half replacement against Tonga keeps his place in the match-day squad and is joined by fellow Scarlets backs Rhys Priestland and Liam Williams.

Ken Owens, Ryan Bevington and Samson Lee are named as the front row replacements alongside Ospreys duo Justin Tipuric and Ryan Jones, who captained Wales for a record 33rd time last weekend.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Scott Williams, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Rhodri Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Liam Williams.

Date: Saturday, December 30
Venue: Millenium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 17.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Alain Rolland (Ireland), John Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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