Cardiff - British and Irish Lions wing Alex Cuthbert was back in the Wales team
to play Australia at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday, just
over a month after injury put him on the sidelines.
suffered an ankle injury during Cardiff Blues' 19-15 European Cup win at
home to holders Toulon on October 19 and missed Wales' opening three
November internationals against South Africa, Argentina and Tonga.
a record of 10 tries -- including one in his lone Test for the Lions
against Australia in June -- in 19 internationals, saw the 23-year-old
recalled on Tuesday for the final match of the November Test campaign.
will be looking to claim a first win over a major southern hemisphere
nation since defeating the Wallabies five years ago and, as expected,
there were several changes to the team that beat Tonga 17-7 in
lacklustre fashion last Friday.
Regular captain Sam Warburton
returns to the starting side with fellow flanker Justin Tipuric now on
the bench, while Dan Biggar was chosen at fly-half by coach Warren
Gatland instead of Rhys Priestland, who is among the replacements.
Hook, who started at fly-half against Tonga, is unavailable because the
match against Australia falls outside the International Rugby Board's
'window' for end-of-year Tests and Perpignan, his French club, have
chosen not to release the talented playmaker.
But there will be
plenty of attacking threat from a Lions back three of goalkicking
full-back Leigh Halfpenny, man of the series in the combined side's 2-1
series win over Australia, George North -- who has got clearance from
English Premiership side Northampton for this match -- and Cuthbert.
Scott Williams has recovered from a toe injury and will line-up in the
centres alongside Cardiff Blues' Owen Williams, who scored a try on
debut against Tonga.
In the front row Gethin Jekins, who brought
up his 100 caps against Argentina a fortnight ago, returns alongside
hooker Richard Hibbard, while Lions locks Ian Evans and Alun Wyn Jones,
who started all five of champions Wales' 2013 Six Nations matches,
provide the second row pairing.
"It's great to have Alex and Scott
available and they bring a lot of experience into the backline," said
victorious Lions boss Gatland after announcing his latest Wales side.
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," the New Zealander added.
Gatland, Wales have lost 21 out of 22 Tests against southern giants New
Zealand, South Africa and Australia, the exception a 21-18 win over the
Wallabies in 2008.
Indeed, Wales have lost their last eight Tests
against Australia, albeit the three most recent reverses were by a
combined margin of just five points.
"We are looking to finish the series off well," said Gatland.
"The last three games against Australia have gone right down to the wire and I don't expect anything different this weekend."
will face a rejuvenated Australia who, in seeing off Italy, Ireland and
Scotland in successive weeks are now on their best winning run of the
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie, who found himself under
renewed pressure following a tour-opening 20-13 defeat by England
earlier this month that ended hopes of equalling the Wallaby Grand Slam
of 1984, is due to name his side on Thursday.
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
Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Liam Williams