AWJ to equal record, Rees-Zammit set for Wales debut

Last Updated: 22/10/20 12:36pm

Alun Wyn Jones will level the record for Test appearances when he leads Wales against France on Saturday

Alun Wyn Jones will level the record for Test appearances when he leads Wales against France on Saturday

Alun Wyn Jones will equal the world Test match appearance record when he captains Wales against France in Paris on Saturday.

The 35-year-old lock plays his 148th game for Wales and the British and Irish Lions, matching the mark set by New Zealand’s World cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw.

Wales’ first game for seven months sees a return for centre Jonathan Davies, who has not played Test rugby since suffering a knee injury during the World Cup last year, while head coach Wayne Pivac has named uncapped Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit and Ospreys hooker Sam Parry among the replacements.

Wales play their delayed Guinness Six Nations game against Scotland next week, and Pivac will use the match at Stade de France as a full-blown preparation for that encounter.

The side is packed with experience, including a 96th cap for wing George North, while scrum-half Rhys Webb edges out Gareth Davies to make a first Wales start in almost three years, and Dan Biggar wears the No 10 shirt.

In the pack, hooker Ryan Elias takes over from shoulder injury victim Ken Owens, with Cory Hill partnering Jones in the second row and Aaron Wainwright starting at blindside flanker in tandem with back-row colleagues Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Rees-Zammit, 19, has made a considerable impact at Gloucester, scoring 10 Premiership tries during the 2019-20 season and finishing second behind his team-mate Ollie Thorley on the league’s touchdown chart.

Uncapped Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit has been in stunning form in the Premiership

Uncapped Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit has been in stunning form in the Premiership

Uncapped Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit has been in stunning form in the Premiership

Pivac said: “The players are excited. It has been a long time, and we can’t wait for Saturday.

“We have six matches this autumn, and the game against France helps us get back into our stride, international rugby-wise.”

And paying tribute to Jones, Pivac added: “It is a fabulous achievement. He epitomises what a great rugby player is all about.

“He is a true professional on and off the field, and a gentleman of the game. On the field he leads by example and you can’t ask more of your captain. We are very privileged here in Wales to have him.”

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb; 1 Rhys Carre, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Cory Hill, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Seb Davies, 20 James Davies, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Louis Rees-Zammit.