Quartet set to face Italians


Dragons back row Aaron Wainwright has today (Thursday) been named in the Wales team to face Italy in the Guinness Six Nations opener at Principality Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 2.15pm).

Wainwright, 22, is named in the six jersey and will win his 19th cap for his country and his 11th start as Wales face the Azzurri on Saturday afternoon.

Prop Leon Brown - who could make his Six Nations debut - second row Cory Hill and back row Ross Moriarty are named among the replacements. Dragons hooker Elliot Dee misses the game through injury.

Wales have named one uncapped player with wing Johnny McNicholl earning his first international cap. McNicholl lines up in a side packed with experience and is joined in the back-three by Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny.

Hadleigh Parkes and George North partner in midfield, with North making his fifth start in the centre berth for his country. Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar line-up at half-back.

Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis comprise the front-row with Jake Ball partnering captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row.

Wainwright and Justin Tipuric are joined by Taulupe Faletau in the back-row, with the number eight making his first international appearance since March 2018.

“I’m really happy with the side and really looking forward to this weekend,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“It is great for Johnny McNicholl to get his first cap, I thought he played really well against the Barbarians so it is a great opportunity for him this weekend.

“George has had a number of games in the midfield for Wales and more recently for the Ospreys and he has been running there in training. We have been impressed with him there and he is excited by the opportunity.

“Nick (Tompkins) has trained really well and has impressed and we are looking forward to seeing him at some stage during the game.

“We’ve had a couple of injuries, Josh Navidi picked up a hamstring injury so he is out for a few weeks, while Liam Williams, Owen Watkin, Gareth Davies and Elliot Dee weren’t quite ready to be available for selection.

“The whole team has a great vibe and we are looking forward to getting out there in front of our home supporters on Saturday.”

On the bench uncapped centre Nick Tompkins is named alongside Rhys Webb and Jarrod Evans as the backline cover. Ryan Elias, Rob Evans and Brown will cover the front-row with Hill and Moriarty completing the forward contingent.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY ITALY (Saturday February 1 KO14.15 BBC & S4C)

15. Leigh Halfpenny (85 Caps)

14. Johnny McNicholl (*Uncapped)

13. George North (91 Caps)

12. Hadleigh Parkes (25 Caps)

11. Josh Adams (21 Caps)

10. Dan Biggar (79 Caps)

9. Tomos Williams (16 Caps)

1. Wyn Jones (22 Caps)

2. Ken Owens (73 Caps)

3. Dillon Lewis (22 Caps)

4. Jake Ball (42 Caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (C) (134 Caps)

6. Aaron Wainwright (18 Caps)

7. Justin Tipuric (72 Caps)

8. Taulupe Faletau (72 Caps)


16. Ryan Elias (9 Caps)

17. Rob Evans (36 Caps)

18. Leon Brown (6 Caps)

19. Cory Hill (24 Caps)

20. Ross Moriarty (41 Caps)

21. Rhys Webb (31 Caps)

22. Jarrod Evans (3 Caps)

23. Nick Tompkins (*Uncapped)

The whole team has a great vibe and we are looking forward to getting out there in front of our home supporters on Saturday...
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