Warren Gatland has made seven changes for Wales’ Six Nations appointment with England after a first-half display against Scotland he admitted was “nowhere near the standards we expect”.
Wales head coach Gatland named the team 24 hours earlier than originally planned, with his line-up including a new front-row and centre George North’s return from injury.
It will be North’s 50th Six Nations appearance, while fly-half Sam Costelow, who went off injured during the first half of Wales’ 27-26 loss to Scotland last weekend, is replaced by Ioan Lloyd, with Tomos Williams at scrum-half.
— Guinness Men's Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 7, 2024
Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee and Keiron Assiratti forge the front-row unit at Twickenham on Saturday, while Cardiff flanker Alex Mann is handed a first Wales start following his try-scoring appearance off the bench against Scotland.
Wales went 27 points down to Scotland before staging a stunning second-half recovery, scoring 26 unanswered points, although it could not mask how poor they were prior to that.
Gatland said: “We have been critical and tough on ourselves this week.
“That first half was nowhere near the standards we expect. We simply cannot start the same way this Saturday.
"Mae hon yn gêm anferth"
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 7, 2024
“We showed in the second half against Scotland what we are capable of. Now it is about building on that performance and playing with some tempo from the off.
“We’ve made a few changes to the starting line-up this weekend, which gives opportunities to the players coming in. We need to be accurate and keep our discipline.
“This is a massive game, not only because of the history and what it means to everyone in Wales, but it is an opportunity to get things on track a bit more.
“England are in a rebuilding phase. We will go there with a lot of confidence we can build on that second half.”
𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐰𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡: Archie Griffin in line for Welsh debut
Congratulations to Bath Rugby's Archie Grffin who has been selected for Wales in their game against England this weekend.
Da iawn Archie pic.twitter.com/AwEqJnUnl0
— Bath Rugby (@BathRugby) February 7, 2024
Uncapped Bath prop Archie Griffin has been named on the bench, where is joined by Racing 92 lock Will Rowlands.
Rowlands linked up with the Wales squad earlier this week after his partner recently gave birth, while there are also chances among the replacements for Dragons pair Taine Basham and Cai Evans, who is the son of former Wales captain Ieuan Evans.
North has recovered from a shoulder problem to face England, with Lloyd now starting following an outstanding contribution after taking over from Costelow against Scotland.
Mann’s promotion to the starting line-up was expected following James Botham’s withdrawal from the squad because of a knee injury.
Williams, Dee and Assiratti, meanwhile, all made major contributions after being introduced for the second 40 minutes last Saturday.
Wales have not beaten England at Twickenham in the Six Nations since 2012, when centre Scott Williams’ late try confirmed a Triple Crown triumph.
After defeating England away from home during the 2015 World Cup, Wales have lost to their fierce rivals seven times in succession at English rugby headquarters.