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Rugby World Cup: Wales make 14 changes for Ireland warm-up


Josh Navidi was part of the Wales side that beat Ireland in the 2019 Six Nations

Josh Navidi was part of the Wales side that beat Ireland in the 2019 Six Nations

Wales have handed Test debuts to Owen Lane and Rhys Carre for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup warm-up against Ireland in Cardiff.

Cardiff Blues wing Lane and Saracens prop Carre are among 14 changes to the side that defeated England.

Back-rower Josh Navidi captains Wales for the first time while regional team-mate Jarrod Evans starts at fly-half.

It is the final chance to impress coach Warren Gatland before he names his 31-man World Cup squad on Sunday.

“It is a great opportunity for Rhys and Owen, they have worked hard all summer to get to this point so it will be good for them to get their first international caps and put their hands up for RWC selection after the match,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“It was a bit of a shock to them when they first came in with regards to how hard we train but they’ve fitted in well.

“Rhys has lost about 10 kilograms since he’s been with us! Owen Lane has continued to improve and impress.”

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Navidi lines up at number eight, with only Scarlets flanker James Davies surviving from the side who beat England at the Principality Stadium, a result that took Wales to number one in the world rankings.

“For Josh it’s a huge honour to be named captain, he has been hugely consistent for us, he has really impressed in the last couple of seasons and he will lead from the front on Saturday and it is a great compliment for him to be awarded the captaincy,” Gatland said.

“Saturday is a really big game for the players and I’m really excited about the challenge for this Welsh team. There is so much at stake in terms of World Cup selection with a number of positions still up for grabs – it will be a huge game.”

Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler makes his first Wales start for 18 months after two replacement appearances against England, while Adam Beard partners Bradley Davies in the second row.

Hallam Amos lines up at full-back in a back three with Lane and Steff Evans.

Ospreys centres Scott Williams and Owen Watkin have been paired together in the Wales midfield, while Aled Davies joins Evans at half-back.

Rhys Patchell has been named on the bench and Gatland says the Scarlets fly-half and Evans will get a half each to impress in the number 10 jersey as they look to take their place in Japan alongside Dan Biggar.

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Wales coach Warren Gatland explains selection for Ireland

“It is probably a straight shootout,” said Gatland.

“Jarrod gets an opportunity, we know a little bit more about Rhys Patchell, so the pressure is on him (Evans) and he understands that fully.

“It’s about coming out, starting a game and controlling a game. Rhys will get the second half and it’s about him coming on and making an impression.

“The two of them are aware they’ll get the chance and it’s probably a shout between the two of them.”

Scarlets prop Rob Evans and Cardiff Blues scrum-half Tomos Williams have recovered from injuries and are named among the replacements.

Only Dragons skipper Cory Hill has not been named in the first three warm-up squads from the extended 40-man World Cup squad as he recovers from a foot injury.

“Cory’s had a cortisone injection in his ankle, he’s been scanned and nothing showed up on that,” said Gatland.

“He’s getting a bit of pain and the injection has seemed to improve it. Cory’s been off his feet a lot, he’s been doing some running and stuff. We’re just being precautionary with him.”

After Gatland names his World Cup squad, Wales face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday, 7 September in their final warm-up match.

Wales

Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues); Owen Lane (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Ospreys), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Steff Evans (Scarlets); Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues), Aled Davies (Ospreys); Rhys Carre (Saracens), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Ospreys), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), James Davies (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (capt, Cardiff Blues).

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Leon Brown (Dragons), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Ross Moriarty (Dragons), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Jonah Holmes (Leicester Tigers).