Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wales name experienced side to face All Blacks

Wales skipper Sam Warburton. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Wales skipper Sam Warburton. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Wales have made a number of changes, both injury enforced and on form, to their pack for the start of their three test series with the All Blacks.

Captain Sam Warburton returns to the loose forward mix with blindside Ross Moriarty to replace the injured Dan Lydiate and unavailable Justin Tipuric. Warburton has not played for more than a month because of a shoulder injury but Wales need his leadership and expertise to stay in this Eden Park test.

Up front coach Warren Gatland has recalled the experienced Gethin Jenkins at loosehead prop and picked Ken Owens at hooker instead of Scott Baldwin who has started the last 11 tests for Wales.

Owens missed the pre-tour test against England because of injury but has a reputation as a hooker with inpressive ball-carrying abilities.

Fit-again senior lock Alun Wyn Jones will be at the core of the pack alongside the bulky Bradley Davies with the rangy workaholic Luke Charteris to come from the bench.
The pairing of Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts is reunited in midfield in a backline which will be served by the impressive Rhys Webb.

Coach Warren Gatland said this test was a chance for several newer players to make an impression.

"It's an opportunity for a couple of boys to start and we are bringing in experience with Gethin (Jenkins), Ken (Owens) and Bradley (Davies).. In the midfield it's nice to have that experienced combination back and the players who move to the bench will still have an impact on game day.

"We are under no illusions how tough the test series will be against the back-to-back world champions but the players are also aware how important this tour is."

Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams; 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Hallam Amos; 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb; 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Rob Evans, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Scott Williams.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 Mar 2017 17:34:33 Processing Time: 464ms