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Wednesday Aug 2, 2023

Dan Biggar dropped as Wales announced lineup for England clash

Wales have announced their starting lineup for the first of the World Cup matches on Saturday against old rivals England.

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Wales take to the Principality Stadium with a strong and experienced lineup consisting of the likes of Leigh Halfpenny and George North who provide over 200 caps between them.

The big news, however, is it talismanic flyhalf Dan Biggar finds himself resigned to the bench and replaced instead by young flyhalf Sam Costelow.

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 18: Antoine Dupont of France is challenged by Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb and George North of Wales during the Six Nations Rugby match between France and Wales at Stade de France on March 18, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

This mix of youth and experience continues throughout the team, as young pacey wingers, Louis Rees-Zammit and Rio Dyer, provide excitement on the flanks.

There is also a start for inside-centre Max Llewellyn, as he looks to strike up a strong partnership with George North leading into the World Cup.

Warren Gatland has elected to partner up experienced scrum-half Gareth Davies with the young flyhalf Costello in a move that will no doubt give the new player a solid foundation to work with.

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The forward pack combined have as many caps has George North does himself. This new forward pack has been hit hard by the retirement of Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric, and will need to gel quickly especially with an experimental front row that consists of two uncapped players. The side is captained by Ospreys back row Jack Morgan who himself has only nine caps.

Time will tell whether this young forward pack has what it takes to compete at the highest level of world rugby, but for now home advantage over the English will have to do.

The noticeable absences include the currently injured Taulupe Faletau, as well as former British and Irish Lions winger Josh Adams who misses out in favour of of the young talented Mason Grady on the bench. 

Adams recently had the following to say about his replacement: “We’ve seen bits of Mason (Grady) in the Six Nations. What an athlete he is. He’s added to the athletic stuff he’s got with the time we’ve spent in the gym. He’s looking really sharp.”

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“I feel in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time, probably all year” he added. “I was struggling at the end of last season with a few knocks. Nothing major but just a few things which slowed progress down.

“I’ve had a clear run, trained well and feel fit and healthy. I’m starting to feel back to myself which is good.

Wales squad:

Leigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Max Llewellyn, Rio Dyer; Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies; Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias, Keiron Assiratti, Dafydd Jenkins, Will Rowlands, Christ Tshiunza, Jac Morgan (captain), Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Henry Thomas, Ben Carter, Taine Plumtree, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Mason Grady.

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