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Anscombe starts as Wales name team to face New Zealand

Anscombe starts as Wales name team to face New Zealand

Anscombe starts as Wales name team to face New Zealand

Gareth Anscombe is set for his first Wales cap in two years after being selected to start at fly-half in their Autumn Nations Series opener against New Zealand on Saturday.

Anscombe was Wales’ starting No.10 in Wales’ 2019 Guinness Six Nations title win but a serious knee injury later that summer ruled him out of the World Cup and next two Guinness Six Nations campaigns.

The 30-year-old will be supported by scrum-half Tomos Williams, while Johnny Williams and Jonathan Davies start in the centres.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to break another Test record, with Saturday’s game his 149th for his country – surpassing the Richie McCaw’s record of 148 for the All Blacks.

There is an all-Dragons back row, with Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright given the nod, with Basham set for his first Test start.

Ken Owens was initially selected at hooker but was forced to withdraw just minutes after the team was named following a failed fitness test on a back injury, with Ryan Elias promoted to start at No.2.

“The focus for this group has been two weeks of training, they’ve worked really, really hard and it has galvanised them,” head coach Wayne Pivac said.

“We’ve been low on numbers this week so it hasn’t been the normal preparation in terms of exact numbers to train against each other, so that’s been a challenge.

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“The guys are really excited but they know it’s a big task at hand. The reality is we’re two years away from a Rugby World Cup and we’re building towards that. We’ve got a Six Nations around the corner to defend, and try to win that tournament again.

“They know it’s a massive challenge ahead. Every young Welsh player when they’re growing up want to play at the Principality in front of 75,000, and if you ask them who they want to play against New Zealand would be one of the top couple of sides they’d choose.

“With injuries and unavailability it’s another great opportunity for players like Taine Basham and Ben Thomas to come into the group and gain valuable experience. They’re going to come away from this Test match knowing what it’s like to play one of the best teams in the world

“To win a World Cup you have to play against teams like New Zealand at some stage in the tournament and you have to win those games. It’s going to be a great experience for those guys who haven’t played a lot of test rugby and they’ll certainly know they’ve been in a match afterwards.”

Wales team to face New Zealand, at Principality Stadium, on Saturday 30th October 2021;

15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Tomas Francis, 4 Adam Beard, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Taine Basham, 8 Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Ben Thomas

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