Wales starting Davies brothers against England in RWC warmup
CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales is starting brothers for the first time in 13 years and England will debut Bath wing and sevens specialist Ruaridh McConnochie a week later than expected in their Rugby World Cup warmup match on Saturday in Cardiff.
Jonathan and James Davies become the first brothers to start for Wales since 2006. Jonathan centers the backline as usual and James receives his fourth cap at openside flanker after overcoming back issues over the last year.
James Davies is one of only three changes after Wales lost to England 33-19 last Sunday. Dan Biggar is at flyhalf after Gareth Anscombe suffered a season-ending right knee injury in the match last Sunday. Anscombe damaged the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus. Jake Ball also comes into the second row.
Coach Warren Gatland said he was giving his Six Nations champion side a chance to redeem itself, and pressuring players to perform or miss the World Cup.
“There is a lot of pressure on those guys on the weekend, because if some of them don’t front and don’t perform, they are opening the door for someone else,” Gatland said on Thursday.
McConnochie was supposed to make his England debut last weekend against Wales, but a hip problem forced his late withdrawal.
Owen Farrell makes his first appearance in the warmup schedule, but in the reserves. George Ford continues as captain.
England also made three changes: Aside from McConnochie, Maro Itoje is in at lock, and Courtney Lawes at blindside flank after injuries ruled out Tom Curry (shoulder), Mark Wilson (ribs) and Sam Underhill (toe), though they are training.
Jack Singleton, the third hooker in the squad who made his test debut last weekend, is the backup for the back row.
Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Ross Moriarty, James Davies, Aaron Wainwright. Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Jake Ball, Tomas Francis, Ken Owens, Nicky Smith. Reserves: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi, Aled Davies, Jarrod Evans, Owen Watkin.
England: Elliot Daly, Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph, Piers Francis, Joe Cokanasiga, George Ford (captain), Willi Heinz; Billy Vunipola, Lewis Ludlam, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge. Reserves: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, George Kruis, Jack Singleton, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi.