Wales Resist Jamie Roberts U-Turn And Go With Williams Pair To Unlock The All Blacks

Wales have resisted the temptation to bring back Jamie Roberts to have a bash at the All Blacks on Saturday.

Instead, coach Warren Gatland has paired Owen Williams with Scott Williams in the centre as he bids to unpick New Zealand’s defences and earn the reward of a first Test victory against them for 64 years.

Having initially been left out, former Lion Roberts was brought back into the Wales squad when Jonathan Davies suffered a foot injury in the defeat to Australia.

Defence coach Shaun Edwards had hinted the Harlequins player – the mainstay of an attacking game plan Gatland has claimed he has shelved – might earn a recall. But it always sounded like a ruse to send the media, and, possibly, opponents barking up the wrong tree.

Instead, Owen Williams starts at inside centre for his third cap, while Scarlets centre Scott Williams will win his 50th  outside him.

Rhys Webb has been picked ahead of Gareth Davies at scrum-half – a clear indication that Gatland believes the move of the Ospreys scrum-half to Toulon next season is still far from a done deal.

The third change from the side that lost to the Wallabies sees injured wing Liam Williams replaced by Hallam Amos, arguably the most in-form player in Wales at present.

Rhys Webb. Pic: Getty Images.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones will lead an unchanged pack from the side that lost to Australia, meaning openside flanker Josh Navidi has been selected ahead of Justin Tipuric, who missed the Wallabies game through injury. Tipuric joins Roberts among the replacements.

Jones will line up alongside Jake Ball in the second row, with Aaron Shingler, Navidi and Taulupe Faletau named in the back row. The front row comprises of Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis.

Webb and Dan Biggar partner at half-back with the back-three featuring Leigh Halfpenny at full-back with Amos and Steff Evans, who have scored three tries between them in the opening two Under Armour Series encounters, on the wings.
“It’s great to name an unchanged pack from the Australia match, we were pleased with a lot of aspects of our second half performance in that match so we are looking to build on that on Saturday,” said Wales head coach Gatland.
“We have a couple of injuries in the backline but we also have players on form starting.  Steff Evans and Hallam Amos are both on form and we are excited to see what they can do.
“We have spoken heavily about opportunity this autumn and there is no greater opportunity than lining up against the world champions.”
Kristian Dacey, Wyn Jones and Leon Brown provide the front row cover on the bench. Cory Hill and Tipuric, who returns from injury for his first involvement in the autumn campaign, completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland (who would win his 50th cap if he takes to the field) and Roberts provide the back-line cover.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY NEW ZEALAND (Saturday 25 November KO 17.15)

  1. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (72 Caps)
    14. Hallam Amos (Dragons) (13 Caps)
    13. Scott Williams (Scarlets) (49 Caps)
    12. Owen Williams (Gloucester) (2 Caps)
    11. Steff Evans (Scarlets) (3 Caps)
    10. Dan Biggar (Ospreys) (58 Caps)
    9. Rhys Webb (Ospreys) (29 Caps);
    1. Rob Evans (Scarlets) (18 Caps)
    2. Ken Owens (Scarlets) (51 Caps)
    3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (25 Caps)
    4. Jake Ball (Scarlets) (27 Caps)
    5. Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT) (Ospreys) (111 Caps)
    6. Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (11 Caps)
    7. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (5 Caps)
    8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath) (68 Caps)

    16. Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues) (6 Caps)
    17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (3 Caps)
    18. Leon Brown (Dragons) (2 Caps)
    19. Cory Hill (Dragons) (8 Caps)
    20. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (51 Caps)
    21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (26 Caps)
    22. Rhys Priestland (Bath) (49 Caps)
    23. Jamie Roberts (Harlequins) (93 Caps)

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