Louis Rees-Zammit is set to make his Wales debut off the bench against France on Saturday as Wayne Pivac hails ‘fabulous’ Alun Wyn Jones ahead of his record 148th Test cap
- Wales teenager Louis Rees-Zammit will make his Wales bow against France
- The Gloucester wing will come off the bench for Wayne Pivac’s side on Saturday
- Captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to break Richie McCaw’s cap record in the game
- Pivac said Jones ‘epitomises what a great player is about’ ahead of his 148th cap
Louis Rees-Zammit will make his Wales debut off the bench in the friendly against France on Saturday night – as captain Alun Wyn Jones equals Richie McCaw’s cap record.
The Gloucester wing, 19, is one of two uncapped Welshmen in the squad for the Paris match, alongside Ospreys hooker Sam Parry who is also a replacement.
Led by Jones on his 148th international Wales have gone strong for the warm-up match.
Louis Rees-Zammit will be given his Wales debut as a substitute in Saturday’s friendly v France
Wayne Pivac has paired Nick Tompkins and Jonathan Davies in the centres for the first time, with the latter playing his first Test since last year’s World Cup.
And in the back-three George North, Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny all start. Rhys Webb partners Dan Biggar in the half-backs.
Up front there is a new look to the front row. With Ken Owens facing a long spell on the sidelines after a shoulder injury, in comes Ryan Elias who is partnered with Rhys Carré and Samson Lee.
In the second-row Jones is joined by Cory Hill, on a first start since February 2019, with Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau in the back row.
The match will also see Alun Wyn Jones win his record 148 cap – matching Richie McCaw
WALES: Halfpenny; North, Davies, Tompkins, Adams; Biggar, Webb; Carré, Elias, Lee, Hill, AW Jones, Wainwright, Tipuric, Faletau.
Subs: Parry, Smith, Lewis, S Davies, J Davies, G Davies, Patchell, Rees-Zammit.
FRANCE: Bouthier; Thomas, Vakatawa, Fickou, Rattez; Dupont, Ntamack; Baille, Marchand, Haouas, Le Roux, Willemse, Cros, Ollivon, Alldritt.
Subs: Chat, Gros, Bamba, Taofifenua, Cretin, Serin, Vincent, Ramos.
On Jones’ remarkable achievement – equalling All Black great McCaw’s cap record – Pivac said:
‘It is fabulous. He epitomises what a great rugby player is all about. He is a true professional on and off the field and a gentleman of the game.
‘On the field he leads by example and you can’t ask more of your captain and we are very privileged here in Wales to have him.’
And Pivac is desperate to get going again after seven months without Tests.
‘The players are excited, it has been a long time, we can’t wait for Saturday,’ the head coach added.
‘We have six matches this autumn and the game against France helps us get back into our stride international rugby-wise.
‘We have picked an experienced side and are up against a good French team so we want to start this autumn well and get on the front foot for the Guinness Six Nations fixture against Scotland.
‘We have talked already about how fortunate we are to be going about our work on a daily basis.
Wales boss Wayne Pivac hailed Jones as a ‘true professional’ after his ‘fabulous’ achievement
‘A lot of people can’t do that and certainly within our organisation there are a lot of people not back at work.
From our point of view this Saturday is an opportunity to prepare for this tournament and for Scotland, but two, to put some smiles on faces and put on a good performance and make the nation proud.’
The French team is just one man different from the one that beat Wales 27-23 in Cardiff during the Six Nations earlier in the year, with Gael Fickou moving to centre and Arthur Vincent dropping out for Vincent Rattez.