Wales coach Warren Gatland. Pic: Getty Images.

Warren Gatland Rips Up Half His Wales Team But Insists: We Can Beat “Rebuilding” England

By Paul Jones

Warren Gatland insists Wales can go to Twickenham with confidence after he included fit-again George North in a drastically altered Wales team to face England on Saturday.

The Wales coach has pulled a familiar play against the old enemy by naming his team 24 hours earlier than stated.

North, who missed the defeat to England with a shoulder injury, has been recalled in place of Owen Watkin in the centre as one of seven changes to the team that lost 27-26 to Scotland.

Following his try scoring debut last weekend, Alex Mann will make his first senior international start having been named at blindside flanker in place of James Botham.

There are two new starting half-backs with the pair who finished against Scotland – Tomos Williams and Ioan Lloyd replacing Gareth Davies and Sam Costelow, neither of whom make the replacements’ bench.

In the front row, there are wholesale changes to the trio that started last week.

Gareth Thomas returns at loose-head in place of Corey Domachowski, who drops to the bench.

And at hooker, the starting is reversed, with Elliot Dee of the Dragons replacing replacement hooker Ryan Elias of the Scarlets.

At tight-head, Keiron Assiratti of Cardiff starts in place of Leon Brown of the Dragons, who is not among the replacements.

Captain Dafydd Jenkins and Adam Beard continue their second row partnership.

Cameron Winnett is again named at full-back, with Rio Dyer and Josh Adams selected on the wings.

Among the replacements tight-head prop Archie Griffin is in line to win his first senior international cap this weekend, while Cai Evans would make his Six Nations debut.

Second row Will Rowlands, back row Taine Basham and scrum half Kieran Hardy all return to the Wales match day 23.

Rowlands would be making his first Six Nations appearance since 2022 having missed last year’s Championship through injury.

Gatland said: “We’ve been critical and tough on ourselves this week. That first half was nowhere near the standards we expect. We simply cannot start the same way this Saturday.

“We showed in the second half against Scotland what we are capable of. Now it’s about building on that performance and playing with some tempo from the off.

“We’ve made a few changes to the starting line-up this weekend which gives opportunities to the players coming in. We need to be accurate and keep our discipline.

“This is a massive game, not only because of the history and what it means to everyone in Wales. But it’s an opportunity to get things on track a bit more.

“England are in a rebuilding phase. We’ll go there with a lot of confidence we can build on that second-half and belief.”

Wales senior men’s team to play England at Twickenham Stadium in the Guinness Six Nations, Saturday 10 February KO 4.45pm GMT. Live on ITV and S4C.

15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 1 cap)14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 55 caps)13. George North (Ospreys / Gweilch – 118 caps)12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens / Saraseniaid – 33 caps)11. Rio Dyer (Dragons / Dreigiau – 15 caps)10. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 3 caps)9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 54 caps)1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys / Gweilch – 26 caps)2. Elliot Dee (Dragons / Dreigiau – 47 caps)3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 3 caps)4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs / Caerwysg – 13 caps) Captain / Capten5. Adam Beard (Ospreys / Gweilch – 52 caps)6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 1 cap)7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers / Caerlŷr – 14 caps)8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons / Dreigiau – 44 caps)Replacements16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 39 caps)17. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 7 caps)18. Archie Griffin (Bath Rugby – uncapped / heb gap)19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 29 caps)20. Taine Basham (Dragons / Dreigiau – 16 caps)21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 18 caps)22. Cai Evans (Dragons / Dreigiau – 1 cap)23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby / Caerdydd – 7 caps)

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