England vs Wales team news: Taulupe Faletau dropped due to injury on club duty as Wayne Pivac makes four changes

Liam Williams and Josh Navidi return from injury as head coach Pivac chooses not to risk Faletau, but both George North and Dan Biggar have been past fit to start

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 05 March 2020 16:40
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Taulupe Faletau has been dropped from Wales’s starting line-up to take on England this Saturday after suffering an injury while on Bath duty at the weekend.

Wales boss Wayne Pivac made four changes to his side to take on Six Nations championship contenders England, with both Josh Navidi and Liam Williams returning from injury and Tomos Williams and Rob Evans handed recalls.

The 29-year-old Faletau has started all three of Wales’s game so far this championship and would walk into the majority of sides worldwide, but with the No 8 unable to train this week until Thursday due to an injury picked up playing for Bath last Sunday in their defeat by Bristol, fit-again Navidi is drafted straight back into the starting line-up.

“Taulupe started on Sunday (for Bath) and hasn’t trained fully until today,” said Pivac. “That’s counted against him, he took a bump in the game on Sunday.

“That’s just one of the downsides to guys playing outside of Wales, having to play on a Sunday before a Test match.

“We think it’s better this weekend for him to come off the bench and have a smaller part in the game.”

Navidi has been limited to just two appearances for Cardiff Blues this season due to a torn hamstring that he suffered in the World Cup last autumn, but Pivac has no concerns about throwing him and Liam Williams in at the deep end.

“The key was to get enough volume into them,” explained Pivac. “We’ve done that and we think they’re both ready to go. They’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to the start line this weekend.

“They’re both very experienced players and they know their body as well as anyone. We’re confident they can do a job for us.”

The decision to hand Tomos Williams the No 9 shirt – and include Rhys Webb on the bench – means Gareth Davies for from starter to missing out completely, with Pivac looking to get the most out of his three talented scrum-halves. However, Dan Biggar is fit enough to start alongside Tomos Williams, with the fly-half picking up a knock to his knee last weekend while on duty for Northampton Saints.

George North has also been passed fit after completing the return-to-play protocols, having failed a head injury assessment in the recent defeat by France, and he joins Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny in the back three with Nick Tompkins and Hadeigh Parkes continuing at centre.

Evans returns at loosehead to join Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis in the front row, with Jake Ball and Alun Wyn Jones continuing at lock, while Nadivi is joined by Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric at flanker.

Wales team vs England

Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis; Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones; Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Aaron Shingler, Taulupe Faletau, Rhys Webb, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl.

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