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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019
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Wales drop Mike Phillips as France make just one change

George North starts in the centre for the Welsh, as Saint-André make three switches to the French bench selection.

George North will wear 13 for Wales.
George North will wear 13 for Wales.
Image: ©INPHO/Colm O'Neill

Updated 11.35

FRANCE COACH PHILIPPE Saint-André has made just one change to his starting team ahead of Les Bleus’ clash with Wales on Friday evening [KO 8.00pm].

Racing Métro flanker Wenceslas Lauret comes into the side in place of club-mate Bernard Le Roux, who suffered a concussion in the round two victory over Italy in Paris. That enforced personnel switch aside, France travel to Cardiff with the same XV as last time out.

There are three changes to the bench as Castres hooker Brich Mach replaces the injured Benjamin Kayser, Clermont prop Vincent Debaty comes in for the suspended Rabah Slimani and Rémi Talès has recovered from an arm injury to take François Trinh-Duc’s spot as replacement out-half.

Jean-Marc Doussain and Jules Plisson continue as the half-back pairing after starting in the wins against England and Italy, with Saint-André having resisted the temptation to call Morgan Parra into his Six Nations squad despite the Clermont man’s return to fitness.

Meanwhile, Warren Gatland has omitted Mike Phillips from the Welsh starting team, with Ospreys scrum-half Rhys Webb taking the number nine shirt ahead of the Racing Métro man.

There are two other alterations to Wales’ XV, with second row Luke Charteris having recovered from a hamstring injury to replace Andrew Coombs in the engine room, while Liam Williams comes into the team on the wing as Scott Williams misses out after suffering a shoulder injury against Ireland.

As a result, George North finds himself relocated to outside centre, from where Gatland will look to use the 21-year-old’s pace and power more often. The Northampton Saints’ flyer teams up with Jamie Roberts in a mammoth midfield partnership.

Dan Biggar has been selected on the Wales bench after Liam Williams’ promotion into the starting team.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams; Rhys Priestland, Rhys Webb; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones; Luke Charteris, Alun-Wyn Jones; Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt.), Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Rhodri Jones, Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips, Dan Biggar, James Hook.

France: Brice Dulin; Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval; Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain; Thomas Domingo, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas; Pascal Pape (capt.), Yoann Maestri; Yannick Nyanga, Wenceslas Lauret, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Brice Mach, Yannick Forestier, Vincent Debaty, Sébastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Rémi Talès, Gael Fickou.

- Originally published 10.21.

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Murray Kinsella

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