Gatland rings Wales changes for Samoa clash
Wales' head coach Warren Gatland has made five changes from the team beaten by New Zealand for Friday night's Millennium Stadium clash against Samoa.
Cardiff Blues' 21-year-old flanker Sam Warburton is among the players called up, winning just his second cap.
Warburton takes over from his Blues colleague Martyn Williams, while one other switch up front sees a start for Ospreys hooker Huw Bennett.
Behind the scrum, Blues wing Tom James, Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar and experienced Sale Sharks scrum-half Dwayne Peel all start as respective replacements for Shane Williams, Stephen Jones and Gareth Cooper.
Peel was unavailable for the 19-12 All Blacks defeat last Saturday because Sale were under no obligation to release him as the game fell outside the International Rugby Board's recognised autumn Test window.
The substitutes, meanwhile, include rookie Ospreys prop Craig Mitchell and Mitchell's regional colleague, flanker Jonathan Thomas. Thomas could not be considered to face New Zealand because of suspension.
Wales have only beaten Samoa three times from six attempts, and two of those defeats came in Cardiff. The countries last met nine years ago.
Gatland said: "We've named a strong side and shown the maximum amount of respect to Samoa.
"They have proved to be a difficult side for Welsh teams in the past, and we don't expect the standard to be any different on Friday night.
"They are a tough, physical team with players featuring for some of Europe's top sides, and there is no question of us underestimating what we are up against."
As for the changes in personnel, Gatland added: "Dan Biggar is a bright prospect, and his performances at the Ospreys this season mean he fully deserves his opportunity.
"Dan is surrounded by experience with Dwayne Peel and Jamie Roberts on either side of him, which should help further his smooth transition to international rugby.
"Tom James has another chance to show us what he can do, and Sam Warburton has been knocking on the door for some time after impressing the coaches on tour to North America this summer.
"But, elsewhere, we have maintained a consistency in selection.
"We will be looking to put a performance in on Friday night that will help create the momentum to finish off this series with wins and build on what we achieved for large parts of the game against New Zealand."
Wales team to play Samoa at the Millennium Stadium on Friday, November 13:
Team: J Hook (Ospreys); L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), T James (Cardiff Blues); D Biggar (Ospreys), D Peel (Sale Sharks); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), A Powell (Cardiff Blues), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt).
Replacements: M Rees (Scarlets), C Mitchell (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), J Thomas (Ospreys), M Roberts (Scarlets), J Davies (Scarlets), M Stoddart (Scarlets).
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