Williams, Navidi back in starting lineup for Wales v England

Reuters
FILE PHOTO: Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Wales v France
FILE PHOTO: Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - Wales v France

(Reuters) - Wing Liam Williams and number eight Josh Navidi have been included in the Wales starting lineup to face England in their Six Nations clash at Twickenham on Saturday, as the pair make a first appearance in 2020 after returning from injury.

Williams replaces the injured Josh Adams, who has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with an ankle injury, while Navidi comes in for Taulupe Faletau, who drops to the bench after being unable to train fully on Thursday.

Coach Wayne Pivac has made four changes in all, restoring Tomos Williams at scrumhalf and bolstering the front row with prop Rob Evans following the 27-23 home defeat to France last time out.

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"Liam’s return to full fitness is a positive after the loss of Josh (Adams), as is the return of Josh Navidi," Pivac said in a media release from Welsh Rugby.

"We have been targeting this game for both of their returns and they have trained really well so it’s a great opportunity for them on Saturday.

Dan Biggar will continue at flyhalf after he was laid low by a knee problem, while George North has been picked on the wing having suffered a concussion against the French.

"He (Biggar) ran well today. He’s been goal-kicking and he’s good to go. He’ll run tomorrow in the captain’s run," Pivac confirmed.

It means the centre partnership remains unchanged with Hadleigh Parkes alongside former England junior international Nick Tompkins.

The return of prop Evans comes after Wyn Jones failed to train in the last week.

"Wyn has had a hip flexor, he hasn’t trained for about 10 days and that has counted against him. Rob is chomping at the bit for an opportunity," Pivac said.

The Wales coach also expressed disappointment at the postponement of Six Nations matches involving Italy in the next two weeks amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak, but understands the decision.

"It’s a shame but I guess the health risks outweigh the rugby. Everyone will be disappointed but you have to put the health of the general public first."

Wales must beat England to stand any chance of retaining the Six Nations crown they won in 2019 under former coach Warren Gatland.

They have lost on their last four visits to Twickenham, with their previous success coming in a 28-25 victory in 2015.


Team: 15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-George North, 13-Nick Tompkins, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Liam Williams, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Tomos Williams, 8-Josh Navidi, 7-Justin Tipuric, 6-Ross Moriarty, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4-Jake Ball, 3-Dillon Lewis, 2-Ken Owens, 1-Rob Evans.

Replacements: 16-Ryan Elias, 17-Rhys Carre, 18-Leon Brown, 19-Aaron Shingler, 20-Taulupe Faletau, 21-Rhys Webb, 22-Jarrod Evans, 23-Johnny McNicholl.


(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Toby Chopra and Toby Davis)

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