Planet Rugby

Wales axe Phillips for French clash

19th February 2014 11:18

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Taulupe Faletau Alun Wyn Jones and Rhys Webb for Wales

Promoted: Rhys Webb

Wales have made three changes to their starting line-up that will take on France on Friday, with Mike Phillips the notable omission from the XV.

Rhys Webb has been named at scrum-half in his place while Luke Charteris and Liam Williams also earn starts for the Six Nations showdown.

Charteris has recovered from the hamstring injury which ruled him out of the clash against Ireland and is the only change to the forward pack.

He will partner Alun-Wyn Jones in the second-row behind the experienced front-row of Gethin Jenkins and Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones.

The back-row remains unchanged with captain Sam Warburton featuring alongside Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

Scrum-half Webb will make his first start for Wales and will line-up at half-back alongside Rhys Priestland.

Jamie Roberts and George North make up the midfield, with North coming in off the wing to fill the centre berth vacated by the injured Scott Williams, and Liam Williams, joins Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny in the back-three.

The last two Six Nations outings against France has resulted in victory for Warren Gatland's men and the head coach is looking for a response from his side after the defeat to Ireland.

"Friday is a massive game for us" he said.

"As a squad we have a huge amount of experience in this tournament and we will be calling on that this weekend.

"We see the game as a huge opportunity for us to put things right.

"Luke (Charteris) has been working really hard over the past couple of weeks and it's a big boost for us that he is back.

"I thought Rhys (Webb) played excellently for the Ospreys at the weekend and he comes in and gives us a different dimension and it's a great opportunity for him.

"George (North) moves into the midfield and he brings great footwork to the role and we were impressed when he went there against Australia in the autumn. His partnership with Jamie will be important as we look to stop the directness of France and Mathieu Bastareaud."

Ken Owens, Rhodri Jones and Jake Ball are named on the bench along with Paul James and Justin Tipuric. Phillips, Dan Biggar and James Hook provide cover for the backs.

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

Date: Friday, February 21
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Venue: Millennium Stadium
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)

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RBS Six Nations Table
PosTeamPPts
1Ireland58
2England58
3Wales56
4France56
5Scotland52
6Italy50