Two changes for Wales's Women's Six Nations opener


Wales women are aiming for a run of Six Nations wins according to fly-half Elinor Snowsill
Women’s Six Nations: France v Wales
Venue: GGL Stadium, Montpellier Date: Saturday, 2 February Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on S4C, updates on BBC Sport website and app.

Head coach Rowland Phillips has made two changes to his team for Wales’ opening Six Nations game against defending champions France.

Hannah Jones and Alisha Butchers return with Jones partnering Alicia McComish in the centre while Butchers returns in the back row.

Beth Lewis moves to number eight in place of injured Sioned Harries and Manon Johnes switches to the open side.

Wales go into the tournament on the back of an encouraging autumn series.

They beat South Africa and Hong Kong, before losing to Canada.

“We made such huge progress,” said Phillips.

“Three games in the autumn gave an opportunity we had never had before to build some momentum.

“The team is fairly settled from our last game and that is a reflection of how we’re trying to focus on a bit of a smaller squad, but also to keep developing the players we’ve got in place.”

Carys Phillips celebrates scoring against South Africa in the first game of the 2018 autumn series

France beat Wales 38-3 in Colwyn Bay last year to claim their fifth Grand Slam in the Women’s Six Nations and Phillips knows Saturday’s fixture will be another “huge challenge”.

“Physicality will be key against France on Saturday,” he said.

“That is their strength and they will come out flying. That is an area we have been working on.

“Playing France away from home is the only place you’ll experience such a cauldron in terms of the huge crowd and welcome and that’s something the players must embrace and feed off.”

Wales captain Carys Phillips played in France two years ago in front of a 10,000 crowd.

“I think it’s going to be even bigger than that in Montpellier,” she said.

“It’s definitely an exciting place to play… they just love rugby, they celebrate any good play, so it’s about taking in that experience as well as getting the job done.”

Phillips added the success of France women has “really grown the game out there” and hopes Wales can emulate that.

“If we can follow on from that with our home games and have a massive crowd behind us it just makes the experience ten times better,” she said.

Wales: Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Alicia McComish (Dragons), Lisa Neumann (RGC); Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Manon Johnes (Blues), Bethan Lewis (Dragons)

Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Natalia John (Ospreys), Alex Callender (Scarlets) , Ffion Lewis (Scarlets); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Jess Kavanagh (RGC)

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