Six changes as Premiership stars back for Wales

Date published: November 4 2021 - Planet Rugby

Wales have been boosted by the return of several players for their Autumn Nations Series clash with South Africa at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Head coach Wayne Pivac has made six changes to the side that took on New Zealand last weekend, with the likes of Dan Biggar and Louis Rees-Zammit starting.

Loosehead prop Rhys Carré has come into the front-row alongside hooker Ryan Elias and tighthead prop Tomas Francis, with Wyn Jones dropping to the bench.

Dragons lock Will Rowlands links up with Ospreys lock Adam Beard in the second-row to win his 12th international cap, with Alun Wyn Jones ruled out injured.

Ellis Jenkins starts at blindside

Cardiff’s Ellis Jenkins comes in for Ross Moriarty in the back-row, making his long-awaited return to international rugby after suffering a knee injury against South Africa three years ago. Dragons pair Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright retain their spot at seven and number eight respectively for this week’s game.

Scrum-half Tomos Williams remains while fly-half Biggar, making his 93rd Test appearance, returns to the line-up after a summer touring with the British & Irish Lions.

Saracens’ Nick Tompkins partners up in midfield with captain Jonathan Davies, with Rees-Zammit linking up in the back three with Josh Adams and Johnny McNicholl.

The replacements include two debutants, hooker Bradley Roberts and tighthead prop WillGriff John, who will be looking to win their first international caps on Saturday.

Full-back Liam Williams has made a return to fitness, after undergoing an appendectomy, and will take part in his first game of rugby since the last Lions Test in August.

“South Africa coming to town, as world champions, offers a different challenge to New Zealand. They’ve got a massive forward pack, they’re big across the park really, and they bring a huge aerial threat so it’s going to be a different challenge,” said Pivac.

“It’s a big Test match and we need to get what we think is the best side out there. We’re looking forward to having this side out there on the weekend and it’ll be really interesting to see how we go.

“There’s a lot of experience gone from the pack now and with what’s coming in terms of the South African pack, with their experience, it’s going to be a massive challenge for our boys and it’ll be interesting to see who steps up.

“Field position in this game is going to be massive, with the scrum that’s coming and line out drive, so we have to make sure we’re smart in how we play the game.”

Wales: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Jonathan Davies (c), 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rhys Carré
Replacements: 16 Bradley Roberts, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 WillGriff John, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Seb Davies, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Liam Williams

Date: Saturday, November 6
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)