Wales recall Warburton, Halfpenny

2014-11-04 14:49
Sam Warburton (File)

London - George North is set to start at centre when Wales face Australia in the first of their November internationals at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The dynamic Northampton wing was named at outside centre by Wales coach Warren Gatland on Tuesday after injuries deprived him of regular midfield backs Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams.

Now North will partner fellow British and Irish Lion Jamie Roberts in midfield, with his usual left wing berth taken by Scarlets' Liam Williams.

However, North does have experience of playing in midfield, having started there when Wales beat France during last season's Six Nations and he has also started there for English champions Northampton.

At scrum-half, Kiwi boss Gatland has chosen Rhys Webb ahead of 87-times capped Mike Phillips.

In the pack, Dan Lydiate has been selected at blindside flanker despite a lack of match time with French club Racing Metro this season, with Jake Ball starting alongside Alun Wyn Jones in the second row instead of Bradley Davies.

Meanwhile in-form Bath prop Paul James selected ahead of cap centurion Gethin Jenkins in a team that will again be captained by flanker Sam Warburton.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny, man of the series in the Lions' 2-1 series win in Australia last year, returns after missing Wales's last three Tests due to injury, with the experienced Alex Cuthbert and Williams completing the back three.

Halfpenny, Webb, Warburton and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard all missed Wales's recent tour of South Africa but have all been recalled for the first match of a tough November programme that also sees Gatland's men taking on Fiji, world champions New Zealand and South Africa.

"We have spoken a lot about this autumn and the year ahead, and we are really excited to kick off the campaign this weekend," Gatland said after announcing his matchday 23.

"It's good to be able to bring back a number of players who missed the last two Tests, and they add to what is a very experienced side.

"Injuries in the midfield means we get to see Jamie and George line up together there again and we were pleased with how that went earlier in the year.

"We have been impressed with the form of Rhys and Dan (Biggar) at half-back for the Ospreys, so it will be good to see them together on this stage again. Paul James and Jake Ball have impressed as well, so they get the nod to start.

Saturday's match will be a dress rehearsal for when Wales face Australia in next year's 'group of death' at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

That will make Wales even more determined to end their dire run of nine straight defeats by the Wallabies this weekend, albeit the last eight of those reverses have been by single-point margins.

"The last few outings against Australia have been extremely tight," said Gatland. "We are expecting the same this weekend and its going to be another huge battle, but it's a challenge we are really looking forward to."

Australia, who began their tour of Europe with a helter-skelter 40-36 win over the Barbarians at Twickenham last Saturday, are due to name their side on Thursday.

Saturday's match will be coach Michael Cheika's first Test in charge of the Wallabies since Ewen McKenzie resigned following their fall-out from the Kurtley Beale text pic scandal.


15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James

Substitutes: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Cory Allen



Read more on:    wales  |  leigh halfpenny  |  sam warburton  |  rugby

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