Wales v Tonga: Dan Biggar back at fly-half among 14 changes


Autumn international: Wales v Tonga
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website and app.

Dan Biggar will start at fly-half for Wales against Tonga, as coach Warren Gatland makes 14 changes for Saturday’s autumn international in Cardiff.

Fellow British and Irish Lion Liam Williams is named on the wing with Steff Evans on the other flank.

Leicester’s Jonah Holmes makes his debut at full-back.

Seb Davies starts at number eight, with Cardiff Blues team-mate Ellis Jenkins, who captains Wales, and Dragons’ Aaron Wainwright completing the back row.

Davies was not part of the original squad but will win his second cap against the Tongans at the Principality Stadium.

The 22-year-old gets his chance as Ross Moriarty played at eight against Scotland and Australia, while Taulupe Faletau and Josh Navidi are both injured.

Davies has played six times for Wales, and featured at eight against Georgia last autumn and played twice at blind-side flanker on the summer tour.

  • Dan Biggar changed by fatherhood
  • Dee targets strong start against Tonga
  • Lee ruled out for the rest of autumn series

Owen Watkin and Tyler Morgan start at centre, while Tomos Williams partners Biggar at half-back.

In the pack Wyn Jones makes his first start for Wales, with all nine of his current appearances coming from the bench. Jones packs down alongside Dragons duo Elliot Dee and Leon Brown in the front row.

Jake Ball is in the second row alongside Adam Beard – who is the only player to keep his place from the starting XV that beat Australia 9-6 last Saturday.

On the bench Ryan Elias, Rob Evans and Tomas Francis provide the front-row cover with Cory Hill and Ross Moriarty completing the forward contingent. Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell and Josh Adams provide the back-line cover.

Holmes has been chosen at full-back ahead of Liam Williams, who will win his 50th cap.

“Jonah has impressed us in training so far, he gets an opportunity,” said Gatland.

“Full-back is a position where we want to create depth. We know what we have got with Liam, he can cover wing, he plays on the wing for Saracens and we know he can do a job at full-back as well.

“Liam has been great in the squad and is definitely a crowd favourite. He is a player who can play both. Since he has been at Saracens, he has played most games on the wing and seems more comfortable there at the moment.”

Media playback is not supported on this device

Wales have never lost to Tonga in eight previous encounters and will be confident of adding to wins this November over Scotland and Australia, with just South Africa next weekend standing between them and a first clean sweep in an autumn series.

Wales are unbeaten in seven matches, including autumn wins over Scotland and a first win over the Wallabies for 10 years.

Victory over Tonga at the Principality would be their longest winning streak since June 2005, when Wales beat Canada to record eight in a row during Mike Ruddock’s reign.

Much of the focus is building for the 2019 World Cup which kicks off in Japan next September but Gatland insists players this side to face Tonga could force their way into the team to face the Springboks next weekend.

“Saturday is a fantastic opportunity for a number of players,” said Gatland.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of Tonga. They had a great win last weekend against the French Barbarians and we know it is going to be a tough, physical challenge.

“We have spoken about creating depth and for us that is all about creating a squad that is full of first-teamers, everyone in the squad capable of starting.

“The boys this weekend have to put their hand up for the final match and put pressure on the players who started last weekend.”

Wales: Jonah Holmes; Liam Williams, Tyler Morgan, Owen Watkin, Steff Evans; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Seb Davies.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rob Evans, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Ross Moriarty, Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell, Josh Adams.

Share if you enjoyed this post!



Source link