George North out as Wales change three for South Africa

Northampton Saints star ruled out as Wales look to end their dismal run against the southern hemisphere big three

By Gareth Llewellyn

Wales wing George North has been ruled out of Saturday’s Dove Men Series against South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.

The Northampton Saints star suffered a head knock during Wales’ 34-16 defeat to the All Blacks last week and is replaced by Scarlets wing Liam Williams as head coach Warren Gatland makes threes changes to his starting XV.

With Gatland’s other England-based players back at their clubs for the match that takes place outside World Rugby’s international Test window, there are two changes in the front row with Cardiff Blues loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins coming in for Bath Rugby’s Paul James and Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin in for Gloucester Rugby’s Richard Hibbard.

“We have had a couple of changes forced upon us with the injury to George, and with Paul and Richard returning to their clubs, but we have named what we think is a very strong side,” Gatland said.

“Last weekend was a very intense, physical encounter.

“The guys were disappointed, but we have come in this morning, the squad are feeling fresh and the focus is looking ahead to Saturday and the Test against the Springboks.

“As coaches, we will be asking for the same effort, intensity and desire as last week, and we want a repeat of that at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.”

We have named what we think is a very strong side

Warren Gatland

Williams, who has been one of Wales’ most impressive performers this autumn, will have a chance to redeem himself after his illegal tackle resulted in the penalty try which cost Wales a win Nelspruit against the Springboks in June.

Wales have only beaten the southern hemisphere big three once in their 27 attempts under Gatland, with that victory coming against Australia at the Millennium Stadium in 2008.

The Springboks have also been forced into changes with their France- and Japan-based players also unavailable.

Head coach Heyneke Meyer has been forced to change the back three with Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, who started in last weekend’s victory over Italy in Padova, unavailable, and the trio are replaced by Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Lvazi Mvovo.

Two rotational changes in the front row see Sharks duo Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis return for Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss, who drop to the bench.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Jamie Roberts (Racing Métro), L Williams (Scarlets); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (unattached), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, captain), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Emyr Phillips (Scarlets), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing Métro), James King (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Métro), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets).

South Africa: Willie le Roux (Free State Cheetahs); Cornal Hendricks (Cheetahs), Jan Serfontein (Blue Bulls), Jean de Villiers (Western Province), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks); Pat Lambie (Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Sharks); Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), Eben Etzebeth (Province), Victor Matfield (Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Teboho “Oupa” Mojohé (Cheetahs), Duane Vermeulen (Province).

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Trevor Nyakane (Cheetahs), Julian Reheldinguys (Golden Lions), Lood de Jager (Cheetahs), Nizaam Carr (Province); Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Handré Pollard (Bulls), Damian de Allende (Province).

Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

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