Six Nations 2014: Warren Gatland rings changes as Wales prepare to play Scotland
Wales were well beaten by England in their last outing
Thursday 13 March 2014
Wales coach Warren Gatland has made six changes from the team beaten by England for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations finale against Scotland in Cardiff.
Fly-half Rhys Priestland, hooker Richard Hibbard and prop Adam Jones are all relegated to the bench following the 29-18 defeat at Twickenham last weekend.
Dan Biggar replaces Priestland, with Scarlets forwards Ken Owens and Rhodri Jones preferred to Hibbard and Jones, respectively.
Elsewhere, Liam Williams takes over at full-back from dislocated shoulder victim Leigh Halfpenny, scrum-half Mike Phillips returns instead of Rhys Webb, who has an ankle injury, and fit-again lock Luke Charteris is in for Jake Ball.
Prop Gethin Jenkins, meanwhile, will set a new Wales cap record on Saturday when he makes his 105th Test match appearance.
It will be Biggar's first start of the current Six Nations campaign, but his call-up is not a surprise given how poorly Priestland performed against England.
The demotion of Hibbard and Jones was not as widely expected, but Gatland has decided that he needs to freshen things up after Wales saw their title hopes disappear.
Jenkins, though, who was sin-binned for scrummaging offences in each of Wales' last two Six Nations games, keeps his place and will move ahead of former fly-half Stephen Jones on Wales' all-time appearance chart.
Charteris' return from a neck problem will strengthen Wales in the lineout, but Gatland's only other changes are injury-enforced after Halfpenny and Webb were both hurt in the England game.
Wales have not lost at the Millennium Stadium against Scotland since 2002, and Gatland will demand his players end a disappointing campaign on a positive note.
"Saturday is an opportunity for us to put in a performance we know we can, and finish the Six Nations on a high," Gatland said.
"We've made a number of changes and freshened things up with a just a six-day turnaround between matches.
"Liam and Mike come in, with Leigh and Rhys ruled out, and Dan Biggar gets his opportunity at fly-half.
"In the front row, Ken Owens and Rhodri Jones get their chance to start after impressing off the bench, and it's good to have Luke back from injury in the second row.
"Scotland will come looking to play some rugby. They had a morale-boosting win against Italy and were unlucky to lose against France in recent weeks.
"We will be looking for a more accurate execution this week to finish with a win at home in Cardiff."
With Webb injured and Phillips promoted to the starting XV, Scarlets scrum-half Rhodri Williams goes on to the bench, where he will be joined by Priestland, Hibbard, Jones, Ball, Paul James, Justin Tipuric and James Hook.
Wales team to play Scotland at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday...
L Williams (Scarlets); A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Racing Metro), G North (Northampton); D Biggar (Ospreys), M Phillips (Racing Metro); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), K Owens (Scarlets), R Jones (Scarlets), L Charteris (Perpignan), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Racing Metro), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: R Hibbard (Ospreys), P James (Bath), A Jones (Ospreys), J Ball (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), R Williams (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), J Hook (Perpignan).
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