Wayne Pivac has named his side to take on Italy this weekend in the opening round of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations.
The new Wales head coach has named one uncapped player in the starting lineup with Johnny McNicholl set to make his debut on the wing with Josh Adams named on the opposite wing. Leigh Halfpenny makes up the remainder of the back-three at full-back.
George North is named in the unfamiliar position of outside centre where he is partnered in the midfield by Hadleigh Parkes. Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar are named at scrum-half and out-half respectively.
Wyn Jones, Ken Owen and Dillon Lewis are named in the front-row, while Alun Wyn Jones captains the side from the second-row where he is partnered by Jake Ball. The Welsh back-row is made up of Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.
Following the announcement, Pivac clarified some of the big selection calls made.
“I’m really happy with the side and really looking forward to this weekend,” said head coach 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.”
McNicholl isn’t the only uncapped player in the squad as Nick Tompkins is named among the replacements. Pivac confirmed he will see game time while also discussing some of the stars who are missing this weekend through injury.
“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.”
Wales team to play Italy
15. Leigh Halfpenny; 14. Johnny McNicholl, 13. George North, 12. Hadleigh Parkes, 11. Josh Adams; 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Tomos Williams; 1. Wyn Jones, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Dillon Lewis; 4. Jake Ball, 5. Alun Wyn Jones (c); 6. Aaron Wainwright, 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. Taulupe Faletau.
16. Ryan Elias, 17. Rob Evans, 18. Leon Brown, 19. Cory Hill, 20. Ross Moriarty, 21. Rhys Webb, 22. Jarrod Evans, 23. Nick Tompkins.