Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Walker handed debut against Springboks

Eli Walker will make his Wales debut on Saturday when they take on South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.

With British and Irish Lion Alex Cuthbert sidelined with an ankle injury, the Ospreys winger has been given the nod in the left-wing position.

Some had predicted that Liam Williams would be selected due to the large Scarlets influence in the backline with Scott Williams and Jonathan Davies lining up in the centres and Rhys Priestland being given the number 10 jersey over Dan Bigger.

But Walker will make his first appearance for his country against the Springboks and will be hoping to make a similar impression as the other Wales winger on Saturday George North, who made his debut three years ago against the same opposition and announced himself onto the international stage by scoring twice in a magnificent performance.

Bradley Davies has been selected in the second row alongside Alun Wyn Jones to give a physical presence against the likely aggressive South African second row pairing of Flip van der Merwe and Eben Etzabeth.

Dan Lydiate will also make his first appearance in a Wales jersey since the summer of 2012 in a familiar back-row with Toby Faletau and captain Sam Warburton.

The match against South Africa is the first of four autumn games at the Millennium Stadium and head coach Warren Gatland knows it is going to be a huge encounter on Saturday.

"We always say we like to test ourselves against the best and Saturday is going to be just that with a huge game against South Africa first up,” said Gatland.

"The Springboks arrive in the UK off the back of their impressive Rugby Championship campaign and we know that we need to start well on Saturday.

"We go into the series as Six Nations Champions but we are looking forward to testing ourselves against the southern hemisphere sides and showing what we are can do.

"Since we have been together, competition in the squad has been good and it is great to have both Rhys [Priestland] and Dan [Lydiate] back available for us.

"Eli [Walker] has impressed for his Region and whilst with us and it's a great opportunity for him to make his mark in a very experienced side.”

Wales Team to play South Africa:
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues)
14. George North (Northampton Saints)
13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)
12. Scott Williams (Scarlets)
11. Eli Walker (Ospreys)
10. Rhys Priestland (Scarlets)
9. Mike Phillips (Unattached)
1. Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues)
2. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys)
3. Adam Jones (Ospreys)
4. Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)
6. Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro)
7. Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, captain)
8. Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)


16. Ken Owens (Scarlets)
17. Paul James (Bath Rugby)
18. Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues)
19. Luke Charteris (Perpignan)
20. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)
21. Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues)
22. James Hook (Perpignan)
23. Liam Williams (Scarlets)


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