Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar to bring up milestones against Italy

Alun Wyn Jones 20/3/2021
Alun Wyn Jones will win his 150th cap as captain Dan Biggar makes his 100th appearance for Wales against Italy on Super Saturday.

Alun Wyn Jones will win his 150th cap as captain Dan Biggar makes his 100th appearance for Wales against Italy on Super Saturday.

Jones returns for his first Championship outing this year after recovering from a shoulder injury and the most capped international of all time will become the first player ever to reach the 150 milestone at Principality Stadium.

Dewi Lake makes his first start for Wales at hooker while scrum-half Gareth Davies and inside centre Uilisi Halaholo come in for their first 2022 Championship games among several changes.

Coach Wayne Pivac said: “Dan and Al are huge players for Wales and have been for many years now.

“We’ve said with other players reaching 100 appearances what an achievement that is and for Dan I know he’s been looking forward to this moment for a long time.

“For him to achieve it with Al, who is also getting the milestone of 150 caps – which no other player has ever done – I think it’s fitting for those two to share the day.

“They’ve played a lot of rugby together and have a healthy respect for each other. They’ve given so much for the game in Wales.”

Johnny McNicholl starts at full-back after playing on the wing against Ireland in Round 1 while Louis Rees-Zammit is also recalled after an impressive cameo off the bench against France last Friday.

Fly-half Callum Sheedy and centre Nick Tompkins are restored to the bench where they are joined by lock Will Rowlands, flanker Ross Moriarty and hooker Bradley Roberts, who is in line for a first Championship appearance.

Reflecting on the refresh of his squad for the final fixture, New Zealander Pivac added: “We’ve made a few changes this week. With one game to go there are some players we need to see out there and put them in the match day 23.

“We’ve certainly selected a side which we think can get the job done. Clearly that’s what we’re here for. There’s an opportunity to move up that table, so we think this is an exciting team and one we’re looking forward to seeing out there.

“Italy are a side that’s improving, they’ve had some bad luck here and there and with a new coach transitioning we know it takes a bit of time.

“But we know they’ve got some very good rugby players and as you saw against Scotland they troubled them in that second half and for long periods of the first. So we’re going to have to be on our game and we’re very much looking forward to playing at home again this weekend.

“We had a good result against Scotland, gave the fans something to cheer about and came very close against an in form France. Obviously disappointed we couldn’t get across the line for our fans there and we hope we can do that this weekend and finish on a high.”

Wales XV to play Italy:

15. Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets – 9 caps) 14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 15 caps) 13. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 30 caps) 12. Uilisi Halaholo (Cardiff Rugby – 9 caps) 11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 38 caps) 10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 99 caps), captain 9. Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 66 caps) 1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 9 caps) 2. Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 4 caps) 3. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 37 caps) 4. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 33 caps), vice-captain 5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – 149 caps) 6. Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 16 caps) 7. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby – 29 caps) 8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby – 88 caps)

Replacements: 16. Bradley Roberts (Ulster Rugby – 1 cap) 17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 42 caps) 18. Leon Brown (Dragons – 21 caps) 19. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 17 caps) 20. Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 53 caps) 21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 10 caps) 22. Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears – 15 caps) 23. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 19 caps)