Pivac springs no surprises in first Wales 23

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New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named his first matchday 23 for Wales’ uncapped clash with the Barbarians at the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the game being outside of the World Rugby international window he has had to make do without the likes of Dan Biggar and Liam Williams, who ply their trade in England, while Tomas Francis, Alun Wyn Jones, Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Patchell and Jon Davies are ruled out through injury.

The headline in the starting XV is that Johnny McNicholl will wear the red jersey for the first time, lining up on the wing having qualified to play for Wales via the residency rule last month. He is joined by Leigh Halfpenny and Josh Adams in the back three.

Hadleigh Parkes and Owen Watkin form the centre partnership, after Willis Halaholo was ruled out for the season with a knee injury, while Jarrod Evans is the only other player who starts having not featured at the Rugby World Cup over the last two months, wearing 10 with club team-mate Tomos Williams at scrum-half.

Up front there is a familiar feel to the tight five, with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis packing down up front, while Jake Ball and Adam Beard for the second row pairing.

Dillon Lewis Wales

In the back row Aaron Wainwright will wear number eight in the absence of Taulupe Faletau and Ross Moriarty, with Aaron Shingler and Justin Tipuric on the flanks. Covering them from the bench will be another Dragons player, Ollie Griffiths, who could be in line to appear in a red jersey for the first time.

Joining him as a replacement are a number of players who have not been involved with Wales for a period of time, with Rob Evans and Leon Brown both missing out on the World Cup squad, while Seb Davies hasn’t appeared in a Welsh matchday squad since November 2018 and Sam Davies since June 2017.

Elliot Dee, Gareth Davies and Owen Lane complete the bench, with the latter potentially covering centre should Parkes or Watkin get injured, or Pivac wants to take a look at how he fares in midfield.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny McNicholl, Owen Watkin, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Jarrod Evans, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric (c), Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rob Evans, Leon Brown, Seb Davies, Ollie Griffiths, Gareth Davies, Sam Davies, Owen Lane

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