WALES MAKE FIVE CHANGES AS NORTH REACHES MILESTONE
George North will become the youngest player in history to reach 100 Test caps for his country after coming back into the Wales side as one of five changes for the Round 3 clash against England on Saturday.
The 28-year-old made his Wales debut against South Africa back in November 2010 and will now pass the century mark as he forms an all-new centre pairing with Jonathan Davies, in place of Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin.
At scrum-half, Kieran Hardy starts ahead of Gareth Davies after impressing off the bench in the comeback win over Scotland in Round 2, while Josh Adams is chosen on the wing following the conclusion of his suspension for breaking team Covid-19 protocol, with Liam Williams moving to full-back and Leigh Halfpenny dropping out.
There is just one change in the pack for the clash in Cardiff as fit-again Josh Navidi is selected at blindside flanker ahead of Aaron Wainwright.
Wales are still on course for a Grand Slam after engineering comeback victories over the 14 men of Ireland and Scotland respectively in the opening two rounds and welcome England to Principality Stadium full of confidence.
“We’ve had a great two weeks leading into this game and we are looking forward to Saturday,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
“We continue to build and we know there is plenty left in us in terms of improvements from the opening two rounds. We are 2/2 but we want to continue to improve performance-wise.
“Saturday is a great milestone for George, it is a huge achievement at his age and we are looking forward to seeing him in action.”
GEORGE AND WILSON RETURN AS ENGLAND MAKE TWO CHANGES FOR WALES
Jamie George and Mark Wilson return to the starting line-up as Eddie Jones makes two changes to his England team to take on Wales in Cardiff in Round 3.
George and Wilson both started the opening game of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations against Scotland before being rotated out for the Round 2 victory over Italy but return at hooker and blindside flanker respectively.
As a result, Luke Cowan-Dickie drops to the bench while Courtney Lawes misses out on the matchday 23 entirely after picking up an injury.
The backline for England is unchanged from the 41-18 win against the Azzurri, which means that full-back Elliot Daly will win his 50th England cap and captain Owen Farrell continues at inside centre, with George Ford at No.10.
Young Leicester Tigers forward George Martin could make his international debut at Principality Stadium after being named among the replacements, with Jones again opting for a 6-2 split of forwards to backs on the bench.
Wales are still on course for a Grand Slam after narrowly defeating Ireland and Scotland, both of who were reduced to 14 men, in the first two rounds, while England likely need to win to realistically keep the hopes of defending their Guinness Six Nations title alive.
Head coach Jones said: “Wales is a really special fixture and rivalry. There is a long history between the two nations and the game means a lot to both countries.
“We know we’ll be up against a strong Welsh challenge on Saturday, but we’ve worked really hard in training this week and have got a very good team to face it.
“We want to show people what we are capable of, keep building our performances and the best is yet to come from this England team.”
Date: Saturday, February 27
Venue: Principality Stadium
Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Alex Ruiz (France)
Wales: 15. Liam Williams (Scarlets, 68 Caps) 14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, 6 Caps) 13. George North (Ospreys, 99 Caps) 12. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets, 85 Caps) 11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues, 29 Caps) 10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, 89 Caps) 9. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets, 3 Caps) 1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, 32 Caps) 2. Ken Owens (Scarlets, 79 Caps) 3. Tomas Francis Exeter Chiefs, (54 Caps) 4. Adam Beard (Ospreys, 23 Caps) 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, 145 Caps) – captain 6. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues, 25 Caps) 7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, 82 Caps) 8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, 83 Caps)
Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee (Dragons, 34 Caps) 17. Rhodri Jones (Ospreys, 19 Caps) 18. Leon Brown (Dragons, 14 Caps) 19. Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues, 29 Caps) 20. James Botham (Cardiff Blues, 4 Caps) 21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, 59 Caps) 22. Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears, 6 Caps) 23. Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues, 1 Cap)
England: 15. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 49 caps) 14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 48 caps) 13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 36 caps) 12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 90 caps) – captain 11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 63 caps) 10. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 74 caps) 9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 106 caps) 1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 64 caps) 2. Jamie George (Saracens, 56 caps) 3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 41 caps) 4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 45 caps) 5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 6 caps) 6. Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 20 caps) 7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 30 caps) 8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 58 caps)
Replacements 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 28 caps) 17. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 25 caps) 18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 10 caps) 19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 18 caps) 20. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, uncapped) 21. Ben Earl (Bristol Bears, 10 caps) 22. Dan Robson (Wasps, 9 caps) 23. Max Malins (Bristol Bears, 5 caps)