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North returns to Wales team for Italy clash

North returns to Wales team for Italy clash

North returns to Wales team for Italy clash

Autumn Nations Cup, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 13/11/2020 Ireland vs Wales Wales' George North with Caelan Doris of Ireland Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

George North will return to the Wales team for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup fifth-placed play-off against Italy in Llanelli.

The 28-year-old – who won his 100th Test cap in Wales’ tournament opener against Ireland in November – will line up at outside centre rather than his usual position on the wing.

He has not taken the Wales No.13 jersey since the Guinness Six Nations clash against this weekend’s opponents Italy in February, when North scored his side’s fourth try in a 42-0 win.

Wayne Pivac will hope for something similar this weekend as Wales look to end a mixed 2020 on a high note at Parc y Scarlets and the head coach has made nine changes to the side beaten by England in the final group game.

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In the back division, along with North replacing Nick Tompkins, Liam Williams comes in for Leigh Halfpenny but the wings remain unchanged as Pivac keeps faith with Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit.

Johnny Williams, who opened his international account against England last week, retains his place at inside centre.

The half-backs have each been changed, with Kieran Hardy and Callum Sheedy in for Lloyd Williams and Dan Biggar as Wales revert to the same duo that started the victory against Georgia in Round 2.

Nicky Smith, Sam Parry and Tomas Francis come in to an all-changed front row, with Will Rowlands stepping in for Jake Ball at lock alongside skipper Alun Wyn Jones.

In the back row, the experienced Justin Tipuric is set to win his 80th Wales cap as he replaces Shane Lewis-Hughes, with James Botham switching to blindside and Taulupe Faletau keeping his place at No.8.

Of the replacements, 19-year-old Ioan Lloyd could win just his second cap if he comes off the bench while Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Leon Brown provide the front row cover.

“Saturday is another opportunity for these players and for us as a squad it is another opportunity to continue to build and to see the results of all the hard work in training,” Pivac said.

“We have blooded eight new caps this campaign and importantly by the end of the match each of them would have had a number of appearances to their name.

“From the outset we wanted this campaign to be about giving players opportunity and we have done that.

“The hard work in training is coming through and we want to show that again on Saturday and finish the campaign on a high, with the performance and result we want.”

Wales team to play Italy

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets) (66 caps)

14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (29 caps)

13. George North (Ospreys) (97 caps)

12. Johnny Williams (Scarlets) (2 caps)

11. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester) (3 caps)

10. Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears) (3 caps)

9. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets) (1 cap)

1. Nicky Smith (Ospreys) (37 caps)

2. Sam Parry (Ospreys) (3 caps)

3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (51 caps)

4. Will Rowlands (Wasps) (4 caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (142 caps) (CAPTAIN)

6. James Botham (Cardiff Blues) (2 caps)

7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (79 caps)

8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath) (80 caps)

Replacements

16. Elliot Dee (Dragons) (32 caps)

17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (29 caps)

18. Leon Brown (Dragons) (11 caps)

19. Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues) (28 caps)

20. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (26 caps)

21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (56 caps)

22. Ioan Lloyd (Bristol Bears) (1 cap)

23. Jonah Holmes (Dragons) (4 caps)

 

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