Wales v Georgia: Alun Wyn Jones to win 129th cap in Rugby World Cup opener


Warren Gatland and Alun Wyn Jones on captains latest Wales caps milestone.
World Cup – Pool D: Wales v Georgia
Venue: City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota City Date: Monday, 23 September Kick-off: 11:15 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on every Wales game across BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones will equal Gethin Jenkins’ Wales cap record when he leads out his side against Georgia in Toyota City.

Jones, 34, will win his 129th Wales Test cap on Monday as he starts his fourth World Cup.

Flanker Aaron Wainwright and prop Wyn Jones start ahead of Ross Moriarty and Nicky Smith.

Josh Navidi is named at number eight with Justin Tipuric completing the back-row.

Head coach Warren Gatland has chosen his strongest side for the tournament opener.

Prop Jones is picked ahead of Smith at loose-head in a front-row that also includes Tomas Francis and hooker Ken Owens who makes his first World Cup start in his third tournament.

“With Georgia, we know how strong they are up front and their scrum is a weapon,” said Gatland.

“We’ve got to be competent at scrum time, We’ve been very impressed with the way Wyn has scrummaged in training and it’s one of his strengths.

“It’s important for us and it’s been a real focus for us, particularly this week.”

With locks Cory Hill and Adam Bead missing for the first game through injury, Jake Ball partners captain Jones in the second-row with Aaron Shingler covering the position among the replacements bench.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland explains why he has picked Wyn Jones and Aaron Wainwright to face Georgia.

Dragons flanker Wainwright has been chosen at blindside with Josh Navidi preferred at number eight to Moriarty and Justin Tipuric completing the back-row.

The 24 year old from Newport has impressed Gatland.

“Aaron Wainwright is just a player that’s continued to improve,” he said.

“He’s incredibly athletic and an intelligent rugby player. He’s very inexperienced still but I think there’s only an upward curve for him as a player.

“I don’t think people realise how quick he is and how explosive he is.

“Since his first cap 12 months ago, he’s just gone from strength to strength.

“There’s some real competition in the back row and that’s the way we want it. We feel there’s a nice balance.”

Scrum-half Gareth Davies partners Dan Biggar at half-back with fly-half Rhys Patchell fit to take his place on the replacements bench after suffering a head injury in the final warm-up game against Ireland.

Scarlets centres Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes again link up in the Welsh midfield alongside full-back Liam Williams and wings George North and Josh Adams.

This selection follows a testing week which has seen backs coach Rob Howley sent home for an alleged betting breach.

It will be a first game for new backs coach Stephen Jones who has arrived in Japan to replace Howley and will only have a couple of training sessions with the players.

“Stephen has been really good in getting up to speed,” said Gatland.

“He’s come in and sat down with the analysts, myself, Dan Biggar and Jonathan Davies.

“Yesterday we had a day off and he spent all day in the team room looking at game footage, going through training and the calls and everything.

“He took a full part in training today. Earlier in the week the players took a lot of responsibility, as you’d want them to.

“Stephen has started to have a good look at Australia and he’s been having a good look at Australia.

“He’ll have much more of an input into things and the plan that we put in place for the Australia game.

“He’s fitted in well and it’s been easy because he’s been in this environment as a player, he knows so many of the players as well.

“One of the things about Stephen is that he’s a very popular person, he’s a very amicable person and easy to get on with.

“I think it’s been good how he’s fitted in so quickly in the first few days.”

With an average age of 28 years 331 days Gatland’s selection is the oldest Wales starting 15 at the Rugby World Cup – 80 days per man older than the team which beat Japan 72-18 at the 2007 tournament, but he says they are raring to go.

“It’s nice to get away from the camp in Kitakyushu and come and base ourselves here in Toyota,” said the Wales coach.

“The boys had a good training session this morning.

“We’re really excited. We’re going to the stadium tomorrow for the captain’s run.

“We can’t wait for Monday night.”

Listen again: Sam Warburton’s guide to RWC captaincy

Wales: L Williams; North, Jonathan Davies, Parkes, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; Wyn Jones, Owens, Francis, Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Wainwright, Tipuric, Navidi.

Replacements: Smith, Dee, Lewis, Shingler, Moriarty, T Williams, Patchell, Halfpenny.

Source link