Wales have reverted largely to the side which triumphed over England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff three weeks ago for their Rugby World Cup opener against the reigning World Champions in Wellington on Sunday (Kick-off 8.30pm.)
The Wales side to face South Africa shows just three personnel
changes from that which defeated the 2007 RWC finalists by 19–9 in the
pre-tournament warm-up match in Cardiff on Saturday 13th August.
Ospreys pair Huw Bennett and Adam Jones come into the front row to replace
Dragons hooker Lloyd Burns and Exeter Chiefs bound prop Craig Mitchell
respectively, with Burns moving to the bench.
In the backs Scarlets
centre Jonathan Davies continues his established midfield partnership with Jamie
Roberts (Blues), a combination that was temporarily split up in that England
match to accommodate the now injured Gavin Henson.
Davies and Roberts
were reunited a week later when Wales beat Argentina (28-13)at the Millennium
Stadium in their final match on home soil before leaving for New Zealand, a
match which also featured Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny, Scarlets scrum-half Tavis
Knoyle, Blues second row Bradley Davies and, from the bench, Ospreys prop Ryan
Halfpenny, Knoyle, Davies and Bevington all join Burns in
providing cover from the bench against the Springboks and are joined by Scarlets
centre Scott Williams, Sales Sharks back row Andy Powell.
scrum-half Mike Phillips reforms his half-back partnership with Scarlet Rhys
Priestland. An exciting back three of James Hook (Perpignan), George North
(Scarlets) and Shane Williams (Ospreys) completes the backline.
the established back row of captain Sam Warburton (Blues), Dan Lydiate and Toby
Faletau (Dragons) is retained, another Dragon Luke Charteris partners Osprey
Alun Wyn Jones at lock and prop Paul James (Ospreys) completes the starting
“We are looking to get our World Cup campaign off to a winning
start,” said Wales coach Warren Gatland.
“If you get the world champions
in your pool you want to play them first up and throw everything you’ve got at
“We’ve got the toughest group in the competition, but we know if we
can come through we will be in good shape. The players have done everything we
have asked of them so far, they have worked incredibly hard.”
James Hook; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Rhys
Priestland, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Huw Bennett, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris,
Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (C), Toby Faletau
Lloyd Burns, Ryan Bevington, Bradley Davies, Andy Powell, Tavis Knoyle, Scott
Williams, Leigh Halfpenny