Wales team to face All Blacks :: 22 Nov 10:59


Wales’ selectors have made five changes to the side defeated by Samoa last weekend for the clash with World Champions New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Up front captain Sam Warburton (Blues) returns to lead the side and replaces Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), who moves to the bench. In the second row Luke Charteris (Perpignan) comes in for Ian Evans (Ospreys), who misses out after taking a limited part in training due to a knee problem and in the front row Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees replaces the injured Richard Hibbard (Ospreys – shoulder).

In the back line Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland returns in place of Osprey Dan Biggar, who was also unavailable for selection due to injury (shoulder).

Fellow Scarlet Jonathan Davies completes his return from a groin injury to reunite his 2012 RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam centre partnership with Jamie Roberts (Blues) – Davies replaces Osprey Ashley Beck.

Front row cover is provided once again by Ken Owens (Scarlets), Gethin Jenkins (Toulon) and Scott Andrews (Blues) with Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) completing the forwards line-up.

Scarlets duo Tavis Knoyle (scrum half) and Scott Williams (centre) are joined by Perpignan fly-half James Hook to complete the matchday 23.

“It’s an honour to be playing the World Champions at the Millennium Stadium this weekend,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“Memories of the Rugby World Cup and touring New Zealand the previous summer are still fresh in the mind of many of the players and staff. The hospitality shown and the way we were looked after made the experience especially memorable and that makes it all the more special that we have the opportunity to face the best side in the world at the moment in Cardiff.

“This New Zealand team is one of the best rugby sides to have ever played the game and probably the best All Blacks team ever, so it will be a privilege to be able to test ourselves against them.

“No one is more disappointed than the players and the coaches with how things have gone in the last two weeks, but those supporters who have been with us over the last 18 months know, just as we do, that we are a better side than we have displayed so far and we will be looking to show that on Saturday.”

WALES: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Matthew Rees, Aaron Jarvis, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris, Ryan Jones, Sam Warburton (captain), Toby Faletau
REPLACEMENTS:Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Andrews, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Tavis Knoyle, James Hook, Scott Williams