Wales have made 2 changes in their front row to face Italy in their final Six Nations encounter of the season, in Rome on Saturday.
Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis come into the starting 15, replacing the injured duo of Gethin Jenkins (hamstring) and Samson Lee (Achilles).
The team which will take to the field at the Stadio Olimpico is otherwise unchanged team.
Evans will make his first start as he wins his 2nd cap in Rome and will line-up alongside Ospreys duo Scott Baldwin and Jarvis.
Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones continue in the second row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau lining up alongside captain Sam Warburton in the back row.
The backline remains unchanged with Rhys Webb (No 9) and Dan Biggar (No 10) at halfback, Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in the centre and a back 3 of George North, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny.
Wales have made 1 change to their side to face Scotland on Sunday, with Liam Williams coming into the starting 15.
Scarlets back Williams will win his 20th cap at Murrayfield and replaces George North.
North is currently symptom free and whilst nearing the conclusion of the graduated return to play protocol the decision has been taken to allow him an elongated recovery period in light of his recent concussive episode in the autumn period.
The 1 change results in the same starting backline that beat South Africa, in the final autumn international, taking to the field this weekend.
The Wales squad will face temperatures ranging from 42 degrees to minus 150 degrees, will sleep in normobaric hypoxic chambers and will train in surroundings ranging from the deserts of Qatar to the peaks of the Swiss Alps as part of their gruelling preparation for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Wales’ full schedule for 2015 will see Warren Gatland’s squad undergo intensive training camps in Switzerland, Qatar and Poland as well as face home and away ties against Ireland before concluding their preparations against Italy at the Millennium Stadium.
The rigorous schedule has left no stone unturned in order to ensure Wales arrive at the world’s showpiece tournament in peak condition with leading facilities at home in Wales and across the world utilized.
The programme is the culmination of months of research and planning and WRU head of physical performance, Adam Beard, who also designed the 2011 schedule, is delighted to formally announce the squad’s plans.
Former Wales and Llanelli flyhalf Phil Bennett has questioned Scarlets’ move for Welsh-qualified flanker Jack Payne from Queensland Reds in Australia.
Payne, 20, has arrived in Wales, but any move cannot be made official until passport issues have been resolved.
Scarlets president Bennett would prefer to see local players at Scarlets, but admitted importing Welsh-qualified players from abroad could help Wales.
“There’s a lot of mixed feeling from Llanelli,” he said. “We’re kind of old fashioned here. People still go back to the great Llanelli days . . . they all want to be Welsh, Welsh-speaking if they had their way,” joked 66-year-old Bennett.
“But let’s be honest, look at the Australians, the All Blacks and how they’ve milked the situation of getting players from Fiji, Samoa and different places. You’ve got to get and live with the very best in the world.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland has denied he was under extra pressure as his team sought an elusive win over a Southern Hemisphere side when they clash with South Africa on Saturday.
Gatland’s record against the SANZAR sides of Australia, New Zealand and the Springboks since taking charge in 2007 does not make for pleasant reading: played 27, won one, lost 26.
That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland on Thursday played down reports in the media that he was under extra pressure, 10 months away from the World Cup in England.
After opening their November campaign with a 28-33 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales side scraped past Fiji 17-13 before rebounding against New Zealand, leading after 69 minutes before leaking three late tries to go down 16-34.
Welsh defensive coach Shaun Edwards has bad memories of what Willie le Roux did to them in June and is wary of the Springboks’ threats.
South Africa managed two victories over the Welsh back in June, with a tight one-point win in Nelspruit proving to be a heartbreaking one for Wales.
Springbok fullback Willie le Roux was instrumental as an attacking threat in both those games and was seen to terrorize the Welsh defence.
For Edwards, a watchful eye will be kept on Le Roux, but he is not fooling himself into believing that the wylie fullback will be the only threat.
“They have got intelligent players, they’ve got a constructive kicking game as well,” the coach said.
They’ve got an outstanding fullback in Willie le Roux, who was the main torturer for us throughout the June Tests.
Wales coach Warren Gatland’s record against the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa now stands at played 27, won one and lost 26 after a 16-34 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.
That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland insisted that his team did not lack self-belief against the SANZAR nations, praising New Zealand’s kicking game in a brutally entertaining match in Cardiff.
“It’s not a matter of belief. It’s sometimes just getting across the line and doing it, and the first time you do that, it’s easier the next time,” said Gatland.
“That’s a big thing for us, we get over that line and that’s what will create that belief and that composure to finish a game off.”
Gatland, himself a Kiwi who took charge of Wales after the 2007 World Cup, added of the “nearly-men” tag.
“It’s disappointing. You’ve got to keep working hard to try to rectify that in terms of critical moments when we’ve come under a bit of pressure.
Wales’ narrow 17-13 victory over 2015 World Cup pool opponents Fiji on Saturday was “disappointing and frustrating”, according to coach Warren Gatland.
Despite the South Sea Islanders being reduced to 14 men after prop Campese Ma’afu received a second yellow card in the 52nd minute, the toothless Welsh team remarkably failed to register a score in the second half after leading 17-6 at the break.
Ahead of clashes against world champions New Zealand and South Africa, Gatland said his team’s performance was “disappointing and frustrating”.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland has named a 34 man squad to play in the upcoming End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) which features just one uncapped player but no place for Adam Jones and James Hook.
Instead of British & Irish Lions prop Jones, 20-year-old Ospreys prop Nicky Smith has been called into the squad for the first time and features alongside 12 players who return to International duty after missing the summer tour to South Africa.
Gatland’s side take on Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends in November as the countdown begins to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
In the front-row, former Wales Under 20 prop Smith, who has started all seven of the Ospreys’ encounters this season, joins the experienced Gethin Jenkins and Paul James.
Wales coach Warren Gatland fired an early shot at the All Blacks’ World Cup defence, suggesting the New Zealanders may be hampered by their weak pool.
New Zealand and Wales face vastly different challenges to make the World Cup playoffs. The All Blacks head Pool C that includes the improving Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.
In contrast, Wales find themselves in the “pool of death” with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
Warren Gatland’s role in helping to broker peace in Welsh rugby’s civil war has included the adoption of a rule preventing players who ply their trade overseas being available for the national team.
After months of bickering, Wales’ national body and its four regions have agreed to terms, signing a £60 million (NZ$118m) deal for six years.
With finances approved, it is hoped the clubs and country will be able to stop the player drain to competitions like the lucrative French club scene.
The Times reported that equally important in the attempt to plug the talent drain was a new ruling, dubbed “Gatland’s Law”, under which players plying their trade outside Wales would be unavailable for selection for the national team.
The Welsh Rugby Union and the nation’s four regions could announce a deal this week to end almost two years of in-fighting over funding and control.
Wales captain Sam Warburton is expected to be joined by nine more players on dual contracts under the new agreement.
If the deal goes ahead, funding for the 10 will be in addition to an annual £6.7m shared between Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons.
The WRU and regions have been asked to comment.
Their last deal ended in June 2014, and if a fresh settlement is not forthcoming the regions face a combined £6.7m shortfall going into the 2014-15 season.
The controversial penalty try two minutes from time which condemned Wales to a heartbreaking 31-30 defeat has not been argued by Warren Gatland.
Wales, having held leads of 17 and 13 points at different stages, were up 30-24 with just over two minutes remaining when Hendricks escaped the clutches of George North down the touchline.
It left fullback Liam Williams covering across to make a try-saving tackle, but he made no effort to wrap his arms around Hendricks and instead shoulder-charged him into touch.
Walsh referred the incident to the TMO, Glenn Newman, and after seeing replays from several angles the referee explained his decision at length to Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones before heading under the posts to award the penalty try.
Warren Gatland hopes Wales will “right the wrongs” of last week’s 38-16 thumping at the hands of the Springboks, when the teams play their second Test in Nelspruit on Saturday.
“We have been really happy with the response from the players during training this week, we have had a good week and we see Saturday as an opportunity to right the wrongs of last weekend,” said Gatland, announcing two changes to the side that got hammered in Durban.
“We were disappointed with last week’s display but we want to finish the season with a big performance and show what we know we are capable of.”
Wales, and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland has been awarded an OBE in the Queens Queen’s birthday honours.
Gatland is currently on tour with Wales in South Africa where they lost the opening test of two matches 38-16 but he said that being honoured was a massive honourt.
“I was surprised really,” said Gatland.
The Springboks completed a successful first match of their season on Saturday against Nick Mallet’s World XV at Newlands but the first proper international action for them starts this weekend as the Castle Lager Incoming Series gets underway with a Test against Wales in Durban on Saturday.
There often is debate and criticism about the make up of squads that Northern Hemisphere countries send on these mid-year tours which take place after their taxing domestic seasons. This year though the two teams due to play against South Africa have got good reason to be fielding teams which are going to be under strength in certain areas. The Test against Scotland falls outside the international window and so their players who ply their trade outside Scotland will not be making the trip over. The tour for Wales has been made much harder due to numerous injuries, no least to inspirational captain Sam Warburton.
The bookmakers have installed South Africa as overwhelming favourites, but Wales coach Warren Gatland has his eye on a 2-0 sweep for his team.
If Gatland was a betting man he would have jumped at the 18-1 on offer by some SA bookies for a Welsh series win.
It is not surprising for a coach to publicly back his side, but Gatland went further by suggesting that only 2-0 series victory will do when they meet the Springboks in Durban (this Saturday 14 June) and Nelspruit (next week, 21 June).
Wales coach Warren Gatland has warned that he might consider not selecting England-based players in future.
The Premiership clubs have said they may not release Welsh players for a trial game on 30 May in Swansea as it is not a Test match.
Negotiations are ongoing, but Gatland remains concerned by the continuing uncertainty over player availability for Wales duties.
The Welsh Rugby Union have revealed on Thursday that they will stage their first full trial match in 14 years ahead of next month’s two-Test South Africa tour.
Rob Howley will coach the Probables, with his fellow Wales assistant Robin McBryde in charge of the Possibles for a game that will take place at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on 30 May.
Adam Jones has spoken about reaching some personal landmarks, the motivation of having two young Wales tight-heads after the number three jersey, and looking forward to another tour to South Africa.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has revealed that his star fullback Leigh Halfpenny will miss the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder in the 29-18 loss to England at Twickenham.
Ryan Jones has been ruled out of Wales’ Six Nations campaign because of a hamstring injury. The 32-year-old back-row forward led Wales in three of their matches in the 2013 tournament as they retained the Championship title.
Gethin Jenkins has been included in a 32-man Wales squad for the Six Nations despite concerns over his damaged knee. The 33-year-old prop had a scan on Monday after he was injured in Cardiff Blues’ Heineken Cup defeat by Toulon.
Injury concerns are threatening to overshadow Wales coach Warren Gatland’s Six Nations squad announcement on Tuesday.
Wales are bidding to win a third outright title in succession, something never achieved before in the tournament’s history.
Warren Gatland has extended his contract as Wales coach until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
This is the second extension of the contract between the WRU and the New Zealander who was originally appointed as head coach of Wales in 2007.
The British & Irish Lions of 2013 were named team of the year and Warren Gatland won the top coach honour at the 2013 BBC Sports Personality awards. Kiwi Gatland, 50, led the Lions to their first Test series win in Australia for 16 years.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has confirmed that he would be interested in coaching the British and Irish Lions when they tour his country of birth New Zealand in 2017.