It's all change for Wales

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:35

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Wales made 10 changes to their side to face Japan in Cardiff on Saturday.

The starting XV is packed with experienced (616 caps) and led by captain Sam Warburton.

Warburton moves to openside flank and is joined in the back row by Ospreys duo Dan Lydiate and James King.  

It's an all-new front row for Wales with Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin and Samson Lee - who all started on the bench against Argentina last weekend - called into the starting side.

Cory Hill, who made his debut against Australia in the opening year-end Test, packs down alongside Alun Wyn Jones, who will win his 104th cap for Wales in the second row.

Cardiff Blues duo Lloyd Williams (No.9) and Gareth Anscombe (No.10) partner at halfback, with the later making his first start at flyhalf for Wales.

The experienced pairing of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies will line up for a 46th time in the midfield together for their country.

There is one personnel change in the back three, with Alex Cuthbert coming into the side for George North.

Liam Williams starts at fullback, with Leigh Halfpenny moving to the wing.
 
"We have made a number of changes, but have named a very experienced side," said coach Rob Howley.

"Continuity and momentum is important, hence keeping the likes of Alun Wyn, Jon Davies and Sam [Warburton] in the side, but it is also an opportunity for players who were disappointed against Australia to start and for players who have been pushing on selection.

"We have made a change with Liam [Williams] moving to fullback and Leigh [Halfpenny] onto the wing.

"Leigh has done well at fullback but we are giving an opportunity to Liam, it's his favourable position, Leigh has played on the wing before they have trained well there and we want to have a look at what this option gives us.

"Japan are a much changed side from the World Cup, but [new coach] Jamie [Joseph] is developing his team and their recent performances echo the dangers of the World Cup with their ability to move the ball wide early and they are a great counter attacking team.

"It's important we look at our game and are clinical in what we want to do this weekend."
 
On the bench Cardiff Blues trio, Kristian Dacey, Rhys Gill and Scott Andrews provide the front row cover, with Jake Ball and Ross Moriarty completing the forward contingent.

Gareth Davies and Sam Davies are joined by uncapped 18-year-old wing Keelan Giles. Giles will become the 11th youngest Wales international if he takes to the field on Saturday.
 
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 James King, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Keelan Giles.

Date: Saturday, November 19
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 14.30 (14.30 GMT; 23.30 Japan time)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)