Davies back for Wales


Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made nine changes from the team that struggled to beat Fiji last weekend for Saturday’s Millennium Stadium appointment with world champions New Zealand.

Centre Jonathan Davies, who has not played for more than three weeks due to a shoulder injury, is among those called up.

Hooker Richard Hibbard, meanwhile, also starts following his appearance for Gloucester last week that prompted Wales to seek clarity about his injury situation after they ruled him out of contention for Fiji because of an ankle problem.

Elsewhere, full-back Leigh Halfpenny has recovered from concussion to reclaim the number 15 shirt off Liam Williams, while fly-half Dan Biggar (groin) and scrum-half Rhys Webb (neck) are also fit to resume action.

Up-front, Gatland parades the same pack that featured against Australia just over a fortnight ago, which means Hibbard, prop Paul James, locks Jake Ball and Alun-Wyn Jones, plus captain Sam Warburton, all being recalled.

Prop Gethin Jenkins, who captained Wales to a 17-13 victory over Fiji, has a hamstring strain and is not involved.

Davies’ return for Scott Williams in midfield is the solitary switch following Wales’ 33-28 loss to Australia earlier this month.

Davies was hurt playing for Clermont Auvergne in their European Champions Cup clash against Sale Sharks on October 26, but he is such a key player for Wales that Gatland has reunited him with regular centre partner Jamie Roberts at the earliest possible opportunity.

Scott Williams misses out on a place in Wales’ matchday 23, with Liam Williams, James Hook and Mike Phillips providing bench cover for the backs.

“It is pretty much the same side that played against Australia and it’s a boost to have a few players back from injury,” Gatland said.

“It’s one of the most experienced teams we have put out.

“A couple of decisions have been forced upon us. Gethin Jenkins has a hamstring strain, (lock) Bradley Davies hasn’t trained for the first couple of days and Liam Williams had a bit of an ankle knock at the weekend and it was a big call on him, but he will start on the bench.

“We are expecting another clinical performance from the All Blacks. We need to match their intensity and aggression.

“The players are obviously excited about the opportunity to face the number one side at a packed Millennium Stadium. We have named an experienced team and we are really looking forward to it.”

Wales have not beaten the All Blacks since 1953, losing 25 successive Tests against them, while their last victory over major southern hemisphere opposition came against Australia in November 2008.

They have suffered 21 defeats on the bounce against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, with the Springboks concluding Wales’ autumn campaign in 11 days’ time.

Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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