Cardiff – In-form Gareth Anscombe has retained the Wales flyhalf spot ahead of Dan Biggar for Saturday’s Test match against Australia.
Wales coach Warren Gatland opted Thursday not to draft in Biggar after the New Zealand-born Anscombe, who can also play full-back, impressed in last week’s 21-10 victory over Scotland when the Northampton player was unavailable as the match fell outside of World Rugby’s Test window.
Gatland made three changes to the starting XV to face the Wallabies, who lost four of their six Rugby Championship matches over the summer, finishing third in the four-team competition.
Prop Tomas Francis, lock Adam Beard and winger Josh Adams all start, with Biggar joined on a strong bench by fellow British and Irish Lion Liam Williams and summer tour co-captains Cory Hill and Ellis Jenkins.
“We were pleased to get a good opening win under our belts last weekend and this Saturday is all about building on that,” said Gatland.
The Welsh side will be bidding to extend their winning streak to seven matches when they run out at the Principality Stadium, but their opponents are a true bogey side.
Wales have lost their last 13 Tests against Australia, group opponents in next year’s World Cup in Japan, in a run stretching back to 2008.
“With selection we wanted some continuity and to be consistent but also mindful there are a number of players who did really well for us in the summer and they need to be rewarded and have their opportunity,” Gatland continued.
“Adam (Beard) impressed in the summer as did Josh (Adams) and they deserve the chance to start.
“There is a really good balance to the team, a lot of competition which is exactly what we wanted.
“The bench is packed with quality and experience and it will be great to see them have an impact on Saturday.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika made four changes to his starting side for their opening November international that also sees them play Italy and England.
Adam Coleman will start at lock after missing the third Bledisloe Cup clash because of a groin strain while Jack Dempsey and Samu Kerevi make their long-awaited returns to the starting side after playing off the bench against New Zealand.
Kerevi’s start at outside centre has forced a reshuffle to the Wallabies backline with Israel Folau returning to the right wing while Sefa Naivalu has been preferred to Marika Koroibete on the left edge.
Hooker Tolu Latu will make just his second Test start on Saturday, almost two years on from his first against France back in November 2016.
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Nicky Smith
Substitutes: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Jack Maddocks