Wales Team v New Zealand
Written by Jamie on 8th June 2016
Alun Wyn Jones will make his 100th appearance for Wales on Saturday, becoming his country’s fifth centurion when he reaches the historic milestone in the opening test against New Zealand (This Saturday, 11 June; KO 19:35 local – 08:35 UK).
Wales have made five personnel changes from their last outing with captain Sam Warburton returning from injury to the starting XV alongside Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens, Bradley Davies and Jonathan Davies.
Uncapped flanker Ellis Jenkins is named on the replacements bench.
Warburton returns to lead the side at Eden Park and forms a new look back-row alongside fellow British and Irish Lion Taulupe Faletau and 22-year-old flanker Ross Moriarty.
In the front-row there are starts for experienced pair Jenkins and Owens alongside Samson Lee at tighthead. Davies partners Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row.
Ospreys half-backs Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue at nine and ten respectively whilst there is a reunion of Wales’ most capped centre partnership in the midfield with Jamie Roberts lining up alongside Jonathan Davies.
The back-three remains unchanged from the warm-up test against England with George North and Hallam Amos occupying the wing berths and Liam Williams at full-back.
Head Coach Warren Gatland said;
“We have made five changes since our last hit out and there is an opportunity for a number of players,”
“It’s an opportunity for a couple of boys to start and we are bringing in experience with Gethin, Ken and Bradley. In the midfield it’s nice to have that experienced combination back and the players who move to the bench will still have an impact on game day.
“We are under no illusions how tough the test series will be against the back-to-back World Champions but the players are also aware how important this tour is.”
“We’ve had a great welcome down here in New Zealand, the NZ public have again made us feel very welcome and there is a good feel to the test series.”
On the bench Scott Baldwin, Rob Evans and Tomas Francis are named as the front row replacements with Jake Ball and Jenkins, who joined the squad as injury cover for Dan Lydiate, completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe and Scott Williams provide the backline cover.
Liam Williams (Scarlets), George North (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, CAPT), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Rob Evans (Ospreys), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets).