Wales v New Zealand: Sam Warburton returns to starting line-up

Wales v New Zealand: Jonathan Davies and Sam Warburton are among five changes for the clash against the world champions

sam warburton
Sam Warburton captained Wales to Six Nations glory in 2012 Photo: Sum_of_Marc, via flickr

sam warburton

Wales have made five changes to the side which lost to Samoa for the clash against world champions New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Sam Warburton returns to captain the Six Nations champions, replacing Ospreys star Justin Tipuric, while in the second row Perpignan’s Luke Charteris comes in for Ian Evans.

In the front row, Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees replaces the injured Richard Hibbard, while in the back line, Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland returns in place of Osprey Dan Biggar, who ruled out due to shoulder problem.

Fellow Scarlet Jonathan Davies completes his return from a groin injury to reunite his 2012 Six Nations Grand Slam centre partnership with Jamie Roberts – Davies replaces Osprey Ashley Beck.

“It’s an honour to be playing the World Champions at the Millennium Stadium this weekend,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“Memories of the Rugby World Cup and touring New Zealand the previous summer are still fresh in the mind of many of the players and staff.

“The hospitality shown and the way we were looked after made the experience especially memorable and that makes it all the more special that we have the opportunity to face the best side in the world at the moment in Cardiff.

“This New Zealand team is one of the best rugby sides to have ever played the game and probably the best All Blacks team ever, so it will be a privilege to be able to test ourselves against them.

“No one is more disappointed than the players and the coaches with how things have gone in the last two weeks, but those supporters who have been with us over the last 18 months know, just as we do, that we are a better side than we have displayed so far and we will be looking to show that on Saturday.”

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Matthew Rees, Aaron Jarvis, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris, Ryan Jones, Sam Warburton (captain), Toby Faletau

Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Scott Andrews, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, Tavis Knoyle, James Hook, Scott Williams

Piers Morgan
Piers Morgan hails 21-year-old after Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa
Michael Owen
Michael Owen states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Norwich
Paul Merson
Paul Merson reveals his prediction for Man United v Liverpool FC
Mohamed Salah
Fabrizio Romano provides fresh update on Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool FC contract situation
Fabrizio Romano
‘Definitely’: Fabrizio Romano says Man United keen to strengthen this position next year
Piers Morgan
Piers Morgan hails 21-year-old after Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Aston Villa
Michael Owen
Michael Owen states his prediction for Chelsea FC v Norwich
Paul Merson
Paul Merson reveals his prediction for Man United v Liverpool FC
Mohamed Salah
Fabrizio Romano provides fresh update on Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool FC contract situation
Fabrizio Romano
‘Definitely’: Fabrizio Romano says Man United keen to strengthen this position next year
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature