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Autumn Nations Cup: George North back at centre for Wales against Italy

Autumn Nations Cup: George North back at centre for Wales against Italy

Venue: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli Date: Saturday, 5 December Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen to commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru; watch on S4C and follow live text on the BBC Sport website and app.

Wales have recalled George North at outside centre in a much-changed side to face Italy in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup fifth-place play-off.

Flanker Justin Tipuric is fit after missing the England defeat through concussion, while full-back Liam Williams returns after 15 stitches in a lip wound picked up against Georgia.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac makes nine changes in total from the England game.

This is after Pivac made 13 changes against Georgia and a further eight alterations against England.

Nicky Smith, Sam Parry and Tomas Francis comprise a new-look front row, with hooker Parry making his first start for Wales after three appearances from the bench.

Will Rowlands partners Alun Wyn Jones in the second row with James Botham lining up alongside Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau in the back row.

Hardy and Sheedy start together for a second time with Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar dropping out of the squad altogether.

The major surprise comes with the return of wing North in the centre alongside Johnny Williams.

North had missed the Autumn Nations Cup games against England and Georgia after being released back to Ospreys to get some game time.

The British and Irish Lions player, 28, made his 100th Test appearance as a replacement during Wales’ opening defeat in Ireland.

The last time North started a match at outside centre for Wales was their 42-0 Six Nations win over Italy earlier this year.

Liam Williams is recalled at the expense of Leigh Halfpenny, while Bristol teenager Ioan Lloyd is named among the replacements.

“Saturday is another opportunity for these players and, for us as a squad, it is another opportunity to continue to build and to see the results of all the hard work in training,” said Pivac.

“We have blooded eight new caps this campaign and importantly by the end of the match each of them would have had a number of appearances to their name.

“From the outset we wanted this campaign to be about giving players opportunity and we have done that.

“The hard work in training is coming through and we want to show that again on Saturday and finish the campaign on a high, with the performance and result we want.”

This is Wales’ final game of the year having lost seven out of nine games under Pivac in 2020, with the only victories coming against Italy and Georgia.

They finished third in Group A of the Autumn Nations Cup and face Italy who finished in the same position in Group B.

Wales team

Liam Williams; Josh Adams, George North, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit; Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Nicky Smith, Sam Parry, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), James Botham, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Source: BBC

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