Warren Gatland Rings The Changes Ahead Of Crucial England Clash In Cardiff

Harry Corish - Sportin Journalist

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named the team to play England at a sold-out Principality Stadium on Saturday 25 February (KO 4.45pm live on BBC and S4C) in the third round of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Gatland has made nine changes to the team that faced Scotland two weeks ago. Mason Grady will make his senior international debut on the weekend. He partners Joe Hawkins in the Wales midfield.

Joining captain Ken Owens in the front row are Gareth Thomas (loose-head prop) and Tomas Francis (tight-head prop).

Alun Wyn Jones is named alongside Adam Beard in the second row.

In the back row, Christ Tshiunza makes his second consecutive start at blind-side flanker, Justin Tipuric is open-side flanker and Taulupe Faletau starts at No. 8.

Owen Williams is named at fly half, with Tomos Williams at scrum half.

Louis Rees-Zammit returns from injury to take a place on the wing. Josh Adams (wing) and Leigh Halfpenny (full back) complete the Wales back three.

Bradley Roberts, Rhys Carre and Dillon Lewis provide the Wales front row cover. Dafydd Jenkins and Tommy Reffell are the other forwards selected in the match day 23.

Kieran Hardy, Dan Biggar and Nick Tompkins are the Wales replacement backs.

Gatland said:

“There’s some experience coming back into the side with Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones and also Leigh Halfpenny.

“And then we’re mixing that with giving players an opportunity. Owen Williams coming in at ten – we need to find out about that ten position so Owen gets a chance.

“We’ve given Mason Grady a first cap. He’s a big lad, he’s got some really lovely rugby skills and offloading ability. He’s quick, so he’s the kind of centre that I think is going to have it all going forward.

He’s got a good rugby head on him. He’s still pretty inexperienced so the big message to him has been ‘what’s the biggest thing you need to work on?’ He said ‘keep talking and keep communicating’, so that’s been the focus for him and I’ve been really happy with him in training.

“The message to the players has been let’s draw a line in the sand in terms of what’s been going on and focus completely on the rugby. We know the history of Wales and England; what that means to everyone in Wales, so we’ve got to go out there and give a good performance.

“For both teams this is a massive game because we win on Saturday and we can get things on track a little bit more. For England it’s a huge game because if you look at their final two games that’s a challenge too, so it’s a huge moment in this competition.”

Imagery rights Huw Fairclough

Wales senior men’s team to face England in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, Saturday 25 February KO 4.45pm GMT. Live on BBC and S4C.

15. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets – 97 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 46 caps)
13. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
12. Joe Hawkins (Ospreys – 3 caps)
11. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 22 caps)
10. Owen Williams (Ospreys – 4 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 42 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 18 caps)
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets – 88 caps) captain
3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 68 caps)
4. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 43 caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 156 caps)
6. Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs – 4 caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys – 90 caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby – 97 caps)

16. Bradley Roberts (Dragons – 3 caps)
17. Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 19 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 47 caps)
19. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 3 caps)
20. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 6 caps)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 16 caps)
22. Dan Biggar (Toulon – 105 caps)
23. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 25 caps