Wales make three changes for South Africa

Jonathan Davies  will start at centre for Wales against South Africa. Photo / Getty Images
Jonathan Davies will start at centre for Wales against South Africa. Photo / Getty Images

Wales have made three changes to the team that beat England last month to play defending champions South Africa in their opening rugby World Cup Pool D match in Wellington on Sunday.

Ospreys pair Huw Bennett and Adam Jones come into the front row to replace Dragons hooker Lloyd Burns and Exeter Chiefs-bound prop Craig Mitchell respectively, with Burns moving to the bench.

The backs show just one change, Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies coming in to replace Gavin Henson, who was ruled out of the World Cup after sustaining an injury in the 19-9 warm-up win over England on August 13.

"We are looking to get our World Cup campaign off to a winning start," said Wales coach Warren Gatland.

"If you get the world champions in your pool you want to play them first up and throw everything you've got at them.

"We've got the toughest group in the competition, but we know if we can come through we will be in good shape.

"The players have done everything we have asked of them so far, they have worked incredibly hard."

With Stephen Jones nursing an injury, Gatland picked Rhys Priestland at fly-half, with the versatile James Hook named at fullback.

Veteran Shane Williams, who has scored seven tries in his six World Cup appearances to date, is named on one wing with George North on the other, Leigh Halfpenny on the bench along with centre Scott Williams and scrum-half Tavis Knoyle.

Mike Phillips will start at number 9, while block-busting centre Jamie Roberts completes the backline.

Up front, Sam Warburton captains the side from openside, with Tonga-born Toby Faletau at No 8 and Dan Lydiate in at blindside.

Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones find themselves in the boilerhouse, with Adam Jones shoring up the tightside.

The four forwards named as replacements are backrower Andy Powell, lock Bradley Davies, prop Ryan Bevington and hooker Lloyd Burns.

After South Africa, Wales will continue pool play against Samoa on September 18, Nambia on September 26 and finally Fiji on October 2.

Wales: James Hook, George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips, Toby Faletau, Sam Warburton (capt), Dan Lydiate, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones, Huw Bennett, Paul James. Res: Lloyd Burns, Ryan Bevington, Bradley Davies, Andy Powell, Tavis Knoyle, Scott Williams, Leigh Halfpenny

- AFP

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