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Webb headlines Welsh changes

Wed, 19 Feb 2014 11:18
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Wales made three changes to their side to face France in their crucial Six Nations showdown at the Millennium Stadium on Friday.

Wales made three changes to their side to face France in their crucial Six Nations showdown at the Millennium Stadium on Friday.

Luke Charteris, Rhys Webb and Liam Williams have all been named in the starting XV.

Webb, who will make his first start for Wales, replaces Mike Phillips at scrumhalf.

Charteris has recovered from the hamstring injury which ruled him out of the clash against Ireland and is the only change to the pack.

He will partner Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) in the second row, behind the experienced front row of Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones.

The back row remains unchanged - with captain Sam Warburton featuring alongside Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

Scrumhalf Webb will line up at halfback alongside Rhys Priestland (flyhalf).

Jamie Roberts and George North make up the midfield, with North coming in off the wing to fill the centre berth vacated by the injured Scott Williams.

Liam Williams joins Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny in the back three.

The last two Six Nations outings against France has resulted in victory for Warren Gatland's men and the head coach is looking for a response from his side after the defeat to Ireland.

"Friday is a massive game for us," the Welsh coach, Gatland, said.

"As a squad we have a huge amount of experience in this tournament and we will be calling on that this weekend.

''We see the game as a huge opportunity for us to put things right.

"Luke [Charteris] has been working really hard over the past couple of weeks and it's a big boost for us that he is back.

"I thought Rhys [Webb] played excellently for the Ospreys at the weekend and he comes in and gives us a different dimension and it's a great opportunity for him.

"George [North] moves into the midfield and he brings great footwork to the role and we were impressed when he went there against Australia in November. His partnership with Jamie will be important as we look to stop the directness of France and Mathieu Bastareaud."

Ken Owens, Rhodri Jones and Jake Ball are named on the bench along with Paul James and Justin Tipuric.

Mike Phillips, Dan Biggar and James Hook provide cover for the backs.
 
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 James Hook.

Date: Friday, February 21
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20.00 (21.00 French time; 20.00 GMT)
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 4 0 1 8
England 5 4 0 1 8
Wales 5 4 0 1 8
France 5 2 0 3 4
Italy 5 1 0 4 2
Scotland 5 0 0 5 0