Wayne Pivac has selected his Wales team to play New Zealand on Saturday.
Captain Alun Wyn Jones will lead his side to the field, in front of a capacity crowd for the first time since February 2019, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in doing so will become the most capped international rugby player [for any country] of all time.
Jones will make his 149th appearance for Wales on Saturday, surpassing Richie McCaw’s record of 148 appearances for New Zealand.
“The focus for this group has been two weeks of training, they’ve worked really, really hard and it has galvanised them. We’ve been low on numbers this week so it hasn’t been the normal preparation in terms of exact numbers to train against each other, so that’s been a challenge,” said Pivac.
“The guys are really excited but they know it’s a big task at hand. The reality is we’re two years away from a Rugby World Cup and we’re building towards that. We’ve got a Six Nations around the corner to defend, and try to win that tournament again.
“They know it’s a massive challenge ahead. Every young Welsh player when they’re growing up want to play at the Principality in front of 75,000, and if you ask them who they want to play against New Zealand would be one of the top couple of sides they’d choose.
“With injuries and unavailability it’s another great opportunity for players like Taine Basham and Ben Thomas to come into the group and gain valuable experience. They’re going to come away from this test match knowing what it’s like to play one of the best teams in the world.
“To win a World Cup you have to play against teams like New Zealand at some stage in the tournament and you have to win those games. It’s going to be a great experience for those guys who haven’t played a lot of test rugby and they’ll certainly know they’ve been in a match afterwards.”
Pivac has named an experienced front row with Scarlets and British & Irish Lions teammates Wyn Jones and Ken Owens joined by Osprey Tomas Francis. It’s an Ospreys second row pairing with Adam Beard lining up alongside captain Jones. The Dragons trio of Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright get the nod in the back row.
Basham will make his first start for Wales having made his international debut against Canada during the summer, scoring a brace of tries.
Cardiff Rugby’s Tomos Williams and Ospreys’ Gareth Anscombe line up at scrum half and outside half respectively. Scarlets centre pairing Johnny Williams and Jonathan Davies take their place in midfield with Cardiff wingers Josh Adams and Owen Lane linking up with Scarlets fullback Johnny McNicholl in the back field.
Where to watch the Autumn Nations Series:
Prime members can watch the Autumn Nations Series live from 30th October with the Prime Video app on TVs, mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire tablets, games consoles, on Virgin’s V6 TV Box, the Talk Talk TV set top box, Apple TV, Chromecast, BT TV or online.
For a list of all compatible devices visit amazon.co.uk/watchanywhere.
Wales team to play New Zealand:
15 Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets)
14 Owen Lane (Cardiff Rugby)
13 Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
12 Johnny Williams (Scarlets)
11 Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby)
10 Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys)
9 Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby);
1 Wyn Jones (Scarlets)
2 Ken Owens (Scarlets)
3 Tomas Francis )Ospreys)
4 Adam Beard (Ospreys)
5 Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – Capt)
6 Ross Moriarty (Dragons)
7 Taine Basham (Dragons)
8 Aaron Wainwright (Dragons)
16 Ryan Elias (Scarlets)
17 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby)
18 Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby)
19 Will Rowlands (Dragons)
20 Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby)
21 Gareth Davies (Scarlets)
22 Rhys Priestland (Scarlets)
23 Ben Thomas (Cardiff Rugby)