Gatland rings the changes
September 30, 2011
George North returns to the starting line-up for Sunday's Pool D showdown with Wales © Getty Images
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has recalled all of his big guns for Sunday's pivotal Rugby World Cup Pool D clash with Fiji in Hamilton.
The New Zealander has made seven changes to the side which routed Namibia on Monday, four of which come behind the scrum. Rhys Priestland reclaims the No.10 jersey from all-time record appearance holder Stephen Jones and the Scarlets playmaker will be joined in the half-backs by Mike Phillips, who returns at the expense of Tavis Knoyle.
Elsewhere, Jamie Roberts slots back into the midfield in place of Jonathan Davies, while Aled Brew loses his place in the back three to giant winger George North.
As for the pack, hooker Huw Bennett and prop Adam Jones take over from Lloyd Burns and Craig Mitchell in the front-row, while Luke Charteris returns to the second-row, with Alun Wyn Jones the man to make way.
Record try-scorer Shane Williams (thigh), utility back James Hook (ankle) and back-row Dan Lydiate (shoulder) all miss out through injury.
"Shane might have been available to us if we had pushed him, but he has taken a limited part in training this week and we are happy with the back three we have been able to put on the field for this game," Gatland commented.
"Alun Wyn (Jones) and Jonathan (Davies), are two of the players who have started in all three games so far and so we have freshened things up a little in the second-row and the centre, but have both of them on the bench if we need them.
"In the front-row, Huw Bennett comes back in after resting up last week and Adam Jones also adds his extensive experience. Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts and George North are all also back in and we will be very much asking them all to continue where they each left off the last time they took to the field."
Wales: Lee Byrne; George North, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones; Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris; Ryan Jones, Sam Warburton (capt), Toby Faletau.
Replacements: Lloyd Burns, Paul James, Alun Wyn Jones, Andy Powell, Lloyd Williams, Stephen Jones, Jonathan Davies.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup