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Wales ring changes for France with eye on second spot

Warren Gatland has recalled captain Alun Wyn Jones in one of seven changes to the team.

Alun Wyn Jones has returned to the Wales side.
Alun Wyn Jones has returned to the Wales side.

WALES COACH WARREN Gatland has recalled captain Alun Wyn Jones in one of seven changes to the team to play France in their final Six Nations outing of the season on Saturday.

The Welsh team are set on the Six Nations runners-up spot, knowing a bonus-point victory against France will guarantee them second place behind champions Ireland.

“Saturday is a huge opportunity for us to finish the campaign well, at home in front of our fans,” Gatland said, predicting a French team in fine spirits after their 22-16 win over England.

“France will be coming to Cardiff in good spirits after their victory over England last weekend so it is set to be a huge encounter.”

Lock Jones returns to captain the Welsh team, having been rested for last week’s Italy match that Wales won 38-14.

Jones, who will be partnered by Cory Hill with Bradley Davies on the bench, comes back into the pack along with Scarlets front rowers Rob Evans and Ken Owens and flanker Josh Navidi.

Navidi lines up alongside British and Irish Lions Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau at six and eight respectively, meaning Aaron Shingler will have to do with a place on the replacements bench.

Prop Tomas Francis is retained from the victory over Italy to start alongside Evans and hooker Owens.

Looking to lead Wales, unbeaten at home against France since 2010, around the park will be Dan Biggar, preferred at fly-half with Gareth Anscombe dropping to the bench.

Gareth Davies, yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on against Italy, starts at half-back with Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams in the midfield.

Liam Williams, George North and Leigh Halfpenny form an all Lions back-three.

There have been some tough selection calls, but that is exactly what we want, we want to be in a position where there are selections and decisions to be made and we have had to make some tough ones this weekend,” said Gatland.

“We have picked a team and a squad we believe can deliver this weekend against France.”

Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith and Samson Lee are named as the front-row replacements with Davies and Shingler completing the forward contingent. Aled Davies, Anscombe and Steff Evans provide the backline cover.

France named their team earlier today.

Team (15-1)

Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Cory Hill; Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Rob Evans

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Samson Lee, Bradley Davies, Aaron Shingler, Aled Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Steff Evans.

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