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Warren Gatland names side to face Fiji in the World Cup

Warren Gatland. Credit: Wales Rugby Union

Head coach Warren Gatland has named his Wales senior men’s XV to play Fiji at Stade de Bordeaux in their opening pool C match of Rugby World Cup 2023 (Sunday 10 September 8pm BST / 9pm local time live on ITV and S4C).

Wales arrived in Bordeaux from their team base in Versailles this afternoon ahead of the weekend’s fixture.

The starting line-up includes five players making their Rugby World Cup debuts. A further five players are in line to make their first World Cup appearance from the bench.

Wales Rugby Training in Versailles ahead of their opening Rugby World Cup game this weekend – Jac Morgan during training

Jac Morgan captains the side at openside flanker. He is joined in the back row by Aaron Wainwright at blindside and Taulupe Faletau, who returns at No. 8 to win his 101st cap having last played in the Six Nations against tournament hosts France.

George North makes his 17th Rugby World Cup appearance in his fourth tournament. He partners Nick Tompkins in the Wales midfield.

Gareth Davies is selected at scrum-half and Dan Biggar at fly-half. Both are featuring in their third global tournament. Davies has played a part in each of Wales’ last 12 World Cup games in the 2015 and 2019 competitions, with Biggar on the cusp of reaching 100 points scored at Rugby World Cups (currently 97 points).

In the Wales back three, Liam Williams starts at fullback, the eighth RWC match he will have featured in. Josh Adams, who was the leading try scorer in Japan 2019 with seven including a hat-trick against Fiji, and Louis Rees-Zammit are on the wings.

Gareth Thomas is named at loosehead prop. Ryan Elias, featuring in his second tournament, is selected at hooker. Tomas Francis, in his 11th World Cup match, completes the front row.

Will Rowlands and Adam Beard pair up in the second row.

Among the replacements Tomos Williams, Sam Costelow and Rio Dyer provide the back line cover.

Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski and Dillon Lewis are the Wales front row cover, Dafydd Jenkins, the youngest player in the Wales squad for the tournament, is the second row cover and Tommy Reffell is the final forward replacement.

Gatland said: “The squad has worked incredibly hard over the last few months and has been preparing well for Fiji in the last couple of weeks.

“Fiji are a good side with some great individual athletes and they play with a lot more structure now than maybe they have done traditionally.

“We’ve had some good clarity about what we want to achieve and the way we want to play on the weekend. It’s going to be an exciting contest on Sunday and one that we are relishing.

“The boys are looking sharp, there’s a great environment in this group – players working for each other, enjoying each other’s company. We’re in a good place and can’t wait to get out there and get our Rugby World Cup 2023 campaign underway.”

On the absence of co-captain Dewi Lake from the match day-23 Gatland added: “The medical team has done a fantastic job getting Dewi back to full fitness. He’s not had as much training under his belt as the other hookers since he picked up that knock to his knee, so Ryan Elias and Elliot Dee are selected for us for this game.”

Wales senior men’s XV to play Fiji at Stade de Bordeaux in their opening Pool C match of Rugby World Cup 2023
Sunday 10 September, KO 8pm BST. Live on ITV and S4C.

15 Liam Williams (Kubota Spears – 85 caps)
14 Louis Rees Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 27 caps)*
13 George North (Ospreys – 114 caps)
12 Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 28 caps)*
11 Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 50 caps)
10 Dan Biggar (RC Toulonnais – 109 caps)
9 Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 69 caps);
1 Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 22 caps)*
2 Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 34 caps)
3 Tomas Francis (Provence Rugby – 72 caps)
4 Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 25 caps)*
5 Adam Beard (Ospreys – 47 caps)
6 Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 39 caps)
7 Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 11 caps) captain*
8 Taulupe Faletau (Cardiff Rugby  – 100 caps)

16 Elliot Dee (Dragons – 43 caps)
17 Corey Domachowski ( Cardiff Rugby  – 2 caps)*
18 Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 51 caps)
19 Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 7 caps)*
20 Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers  – 10 caps)*
21 Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 48 caps)
22 Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 4 caps)*
23 Rio Dyer (Dragons – 9 caps)*

*player appearing in first Rugby World Cup