Ospreys prop Aaron Jarvis set to make Wales debut

 

Ospreys prop Aaron Jarvis will make his Wales debut in Saturday's autumn Test series opener against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley has also sprung a major surprise at scrum-half by selecting Tavis Knoyle ahead of British and Irish Lions Test number nine Mike Phillips.

Scarlets flanker Josh Turnbull wears the number six shirt with Dan Lydiate and Ryan Jones both sidelined through injury, with Gethin Jenkins packing down in the front-row for his 91st cap alongside former Wales skipper Matthew Rees and Jarvis, who replaces an injured Adam Jones.

Injury also sidelines centre Jonathan Davies (groin), so his Scarlets colleague Scott Williams deputises and partners Jamie Roberts in midfield.

There are seven changes from Wales' last game - a 20-19 defeat to Australia in Sydney last June - with Williams, Roberts, Knoyle, Jarvis, lock Ian Evans, Turnbull and number eight Toby Faletau all starting.

Bayonne star Phillips has to be content with a place on the bench alongside his fellow France-based back James Hook, but Ospreys centre Ashley Beck was not considered for the match-day 23 due to a hip problem.

Fly-half Rhys Priestland, meanwhile, has seen off the challenges of Hook and Ospreys' in-form Dan Biggar to retain the playmaker role, with Howley retaining a potent back-three of Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and George North.

Exeter-born Jarvis, who has a Welsh grandmother, has been in strong form for the Ospreys this season and he impressed the Wales coaching staff during last week's training camp in Poland.

"One or two injuries have forced our hands in certain areas in terms of selection," Howley said.

"But the fact that we are still able to field a side packed with Grand Slam experience shows that we have been able to develop some depth in recent years.

"There are obvious opportunities for the likes of Aaron, Tavis and Josh to pull on the jersey against Argentina and try to make it their own.

"We all know how important a good start against the Pumas will be to our November series. They arrive battle-hardened after a tough Rugby Championship campaign.

"They will be looking to silence the Millennium Stadium crowd from the outset and we know we can't afford to let that happen, with a successful campaign this autumn vital to our ambitions for the future."

After Argentina, reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Wales face Samoa six days later before tackling World Cup holders New Zealand on November 24, followed by a December 1 appointment with Australia.

The top four teams in the International Rugby Board world rankings at the end of the autumn Tests will secure top seedings for the 2015 World Cup pools, which will be drawn in London early next month.

Wales team to play Argentina at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday:

L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), S Williams (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), T Knoyle (Scarlets); G Jenkins (Toulon), M Rees (Scarlets), A Jarvis (Ospreys), A-W Jones (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), R Bevington (Ospreys), P James (Bath), R McCusker (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), M Phillips (Bayonne), J Hook (Perpignan), L Williams (Scarlets).

PA

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