Wales make seven changes for Six Nations clash with England
George North returns at centre while flanker Alex Mann makes his first Test start after impressing in pulsating loss to Scotland
Centre George North is one of seven changes to the Wales team to play England in their Six Nations clash at Twickenham on Saturday, while flanker Alex Mann earns a first international start having impressed in their thrilling 27-26 loss to Scotland.
North missed the game against the Scots through injury but takes his place in the midfield alongside Nick Tompkins. The back three remains unchanged with fullback Cameron Winnett playing a 17th professional game in his career with wings Josh Adams and Rio Dyer.
Ioan Lloyd takes flyhalf from the injured Sam Costelow and Tomos Williams starts at scrumhalf after impressing off the bench in Cardiff as Wales came from 27-0 down to the brink of victory.
“We’ve been critical and tough on ourselves this week. That first half [against Scotland] was nowhere near the standards we expect. We simply cannot start the same way this Saturday,” coach Warren Gatland said.
“We showed in the second half what we are capable of. Now it’s about building on that performance and playing with some tempo from the off.”
Mann is part of a back row that includes Tommy Reffell and impressive No 8 Aaron Wainwright, with 21-year-old lock Dafydd Jenkins retaining the captain’s armband in a side that was named 24 hours earlier than expected by Gatland.
Loosehead prop Gareth Thomas returns from injury to start, while hooker Khowa Dee and tighthead prop Keiron Assiratti are elevated from the bench in an all-new front row.
“We’ve made a few changes to the starting line-up this weekend which gives opportunities to the players coming in. We need to be accurate and keep our discipline,” Gatland said.
“This is a massive game, not only because of the history and what it means to everyone in Wales. But it’s an opportunity to get things on track a bit more. England are in a rebuilding phase. We’ll go there with a lot of confidence we can build on that second half [against Scotland].”
Among the replacements, tighthead prop Archie Griffin is in line to win his first senior international cap, while lock Will Rowlands, back row Taine Basham and scrumhalf Kieran Hardy all return to the match-day 23.
Wales squad: Cameron Winnett, Josh Adams, George North, Nick Tompkins, Rio Dyer, Ioan Lloyd, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Khowa Dee, Keiron Assiratti, Dafydd Jenkins (capt), Adam Beard, Alex Mann, Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Corey Domachowski, Archie Griffin, Will Rowlands, Taine Basham, Kieran Hardy, Cai Evans, Mason Grady
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