Wales coach Warren Gatland has opted to go back to Rhys Priestland for their epic match up with the number two side in the world, this weekend in Cardiff. Dan bigger, who has been prefered to Priestland of late is not even in the match 22, with utility back James Hook – who has been in hot form his French club Perpignan – handed the backup pivot role.
‘Since we have been together, competition in the squad has been good and it is great to have both Rhys and Dan back available for us,’ said coach Warren Gatland.
Young wing Eli Walker will debut in place of British & Irish Lion Alex Cuthbert, who is out injured. Walker will play on the left, meaning George North has to shift to the right.
‘Eli has impressed for his region and while with us and it’s a great opportunity for him to make his mark in a very experienced side,’ said Gatland.
10 players lined up against South Africa for their previous encounter at the Rugby World Cup. A game Wales were unlucky to lose by a single point. Gatland wwill know that his team in in with a chance to pull of a famous victory against a battle-weary bok side.
‘We always say we like to test ourselves against the best and Saturday is going to be just that with a huge game against South Africa first up. They arrive in the UK off the back of an impressive Rugby Championship campaign and we know that we need to start well on Saturday,’ Gatland added. ‘We go into the series as Six Nations champions but we are looking forward to testing ourselves against the southern hemisphere sides and showing what we are can do.’
Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Subs: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 James Hook, 23 Liam Williams.