North, Hibbard return for Wales

Date published: February 2 2015

George North and Richard Hibbard have returned to the Wales starting XV to face England in the opening match of the Six Nations.

North and Hibbard both missed the win over South Africa at the end of last November. Captain Sam Warburton will win his 50th cap in Friday’s game.

Hibbard will line-up in the front-row with Gethin Jenkins and Samson Lee, with Jake Ball and Alun-Wyn Jones packing down behind.

Warburton is named in a familiar back-row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

Ospreys duo Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue at half-back with Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies continuing their partnership in midfield.

North is the only change in backline and lines up in a back three along with Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny.

“We decided to name the team early to give the players the best possible chance of preparation,” said Gatland.

“It was a tough call on the two changes we have made from the side that beat South Africa, but its good to have these and other tough selection decisions and it’s a strong position to be in.

“We are excited about kicking the tournament off on Friday against a strong England side in front of a packed Millennium Stadium.”

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Liam Williams.

Date: Friday, February 6
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Referee: J