Wales recall Davies for All Blacks TestOn 01/31/2019 by admin
Jonathan Davies has been recalled to face the All Blacks by Wales coach Warren Gatland, who named a side showing nine changes from the team that struggled to see off Fiji last weekend.
Davies, who has been out of action for three weeks with a shoulder injury, resumes his centre partnership with Jamie Roberts, in the only personnel change to the team beaten by Australia in Cardiff a fortnight ago.
Elsewhere, in the back division Leigh Halfpenny has recovered from concussion to displace Liam Williams, while five-eighth Dan Biggar (groin) and halfback Rhys Webb (neck) are also fit to return.
Up front, hooker Richard Hibbard also starts following his appearance for English Premiership side Gloucester last week that led to an angry response from Gatland after Wales had ruled him out of the Fiji match because of an ankle problem.
Hibbard was one of several forwards returning to Test action as Gatland selected the same pack that played in the 33-28 defeat by Australia, with captain Sam Warburton returning to the back row, locks Jake Ball and Alun Wyn Jones and prop Paul James all recalled for the clash with the world champions at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Prop Gethin Jenkins, who captained Wales to a 17-13 victory over Fiji, was ruled out with a hamstring strain.
“It is pretty much the same side that played against Australia and it’s a boost to have a few players back from injury,” Gatland said.
“It’s one of the most experienced teams we have put out.”
Wales, in an error-strewn display, failed to score a point after halftime against the Pacific Islanders even though Fiji played the majority of the match a man down after prop Campese Ma’afu was first sin-binned and then sent off.
It was far from an ideal way to prepare for a match with the All Blacks, a team Wales have not beaten since a 1-8 triumph in Cardiff in 1953 and with their losing run against New Zealand now standing at 25 successive Tests.
Wales’s last victory over one of the southern hemisphere ‘big three’ of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia was a win against the Wallabies in 2008, with Gatland’s men suffering 21 straight defeats combined by the trio.
A largely second-string New Zealand, coached by former Wales boss Steve Hansen, saw off Scotland 24-16 in Edinburgh last weekend.
“We are expecting another clinical performance from the All Blacks,” Gatland said.
“We need to match their intensity and aggression.
“The players are obviously excited about the opportunity to face the number one side at a packed Millennium Stadium. We have named an experienced team and we are really looking forward to it.”
Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (capt), Dan Lydiate; Alun Wyn Jones, Jake Ball; Samson Lee, Richard Hibbard, Paul James. Res: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Rhodri Jones, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips, James Hook, Liam Williams.