Wales make big backline changes for England clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: George North is set to win his 100th Wales cap after being named in coach Wayne Pivac’s starting XV to face England in Saturday’s Six Nations international at Cardiff.
At 28 years and 320 days, he will surpass Australia’s Michael Hopper as the youngest player to reach a century of caps for their country.
North, best known as a wing, and Jonathan Davies form Wales’ centre pairing after recovering from foot and ankle injuries that ruled them out of Wales’ win over Scotland earlier this month.
Wing Josh Adams returns after serving a two-match ban for breaching coronavirus protocols.
Liam Williams has moved from wing to fullback, replacing Leigh Halfpenny, with Kieran Hardy preferred by Pivac to Gareth Davies at scrumhalf.
In the pack, Josh Navidi returns to Wales’ back row.
Halfpenny failed a head injury assessment against Scotland 12 days ago after going off just before half-time.
Pivac has made five changes and one positional switch from the side that edged Scotland 25-24 at Murrayfield.
Victory against England would clinch a Triple Crown for Wales and keep alive their hopes of a Grand Slam.
“Saturday is a great milestone for George,” said Pivac. “It is a huge achievement at his age and we are looking forward to seeing him in action.”
The New Zealander added: “We’ve had a great two weeks leading into this game and we are looking forward to Saturday.
“We continue to build and we know there is plenty left in us in terms of improvements from the opening two rounds.”
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Botham, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Willis Halaholo.
Date: Saturday, February 27
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 16.45 (16.45 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Alex Ruiz (France)