Wales drop Phillips for France
London - Wales scrumhalf Mike Phillips has been demoted to the bench for
Friday's crunch Six Nations international against unbeaten France in
Kick-off is at 22:00 SA time.
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Phillips, who has won 82 caps and was the British and
Irish Lions Test number nine in Australia last year, was replaced by
Rhys Web, who will make his first Wales start, in the team announced by
coach Warren Gatland on Wednesday.
In the absence through injury
of Scott Williams, George North moves from wing to centre, with Liam
Williams replacing North out wide.
One other change from the team
thrashed 26-3 by Ireland in Dublin last time out sees fit-again lock
Luke Charteris recalled in place of Andrew Coombs.
Wales are bidding to become the first team to win three successive outright Six Nations Championship titles.
the heavy defeat by Ireland was a huge setback and a loss to France
would all but extinguish Welsh hopes of an outright treble never before
completed in the Championship's various guises.
"Friday is a massive game for us," Gatland said.
a squad, we have a huge amount of experience in this tournament, and we
will be calling on that this week," the New Zealander added.
"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.
thought Rhys (Webb) played excellently for the Ospreys at the weekend,
and he comes in and gives us a different dimension. It's a great
opportunity for him.
"George (North) moves into the midfield, and he brings great footwork to the role.
"His partnership with Jamie (Roberts) will be important as we look to stop the directness of France and Mathieu Bastareaud."
Gatland is without several centres in Scott Williams, Jonathan Davies and Ashley Beck through injury.
had been speculation that, rather than move North in from the wing,
where he has started all his previous 37 Tests, Gatland might bring
utility back James Hook in alongside Lions star Roberts in midfield.
But Hook's versatility has once again kept him among the replacements.
Gatland, the Lions' coach in Australia last year, resisted the
temptation to tinker with his back-row by giving Justin Tipuric a start
and has instead kept faith with the loose forward trio of No 8 Taulupe
Faletau, Wales captain Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate who all played
France will arrive in Cardiff fresh from home
wins over England and Italy, with 'Les Bleus' looking to build on an
impressive record of just two defeats in seven previous Six Nations
matches at the Millennium Stadium.Teams: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, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke
Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins
16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin
Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 James Hook
15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud,
12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Hugo Bonneval, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Jean-Marc
Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5
Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Pape (captain ), 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri
Szarzewski, 1 Thomas Domingo
Substitutes: 16 Brice Mach, 17
Yannick Forestier, 18 Vincent Debaty, 19 Sbastien Vahaamahina, 20 Damien
Chouly, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Remi Tales, 23 Gael Fickou