Navidi and Davies start as Wales make four changes for France

Wales Seb Davies 26/2/2022
Josh Navidi and Seb Davies will make their first appearances of 2022 Guinness Six Nations after being drafted into the Wales back row for their Friday night clash with France.

Josh Navidi and Seb Davies will make their first appearances of 2022 Guinness Six Nations after being drafted into the Wales back row for their Friday night clash with France.

Wayne Pivac has named Navidi at openside after he returned to the squad earlier this week following injury, having not played for his country since the 2021 Championship defeat to France.

Davies joins him at blindside flanker for his third start for Wales in the position and first appearance in the starting XV since the victory over Australia last autumn.

Taulupe Faletau completes the back row at No.8 while Wayne Pivac has also made a change to his front row, with Gareth Thomas replacing Wyn Jones at loosehead.

Thomas will pack down alongside Ryan Elias (hooker) and Tomas Francis (tight-head prop), while Will Rowlands and Adam Beard continue in the second row for the fourth consecutive game.

Elsewhere, Wales’ back three remains unchanged from the team that lost 23-19 to England as Josh Adams and Alex Cuthbert remain on the wings and Liam Williams is named at fullback.

Francis and Adams have been managed clinically by Wales medical personnel and successfully completed the required return to play protocols, as specified in the World Rugby Regulations.

Captain Dan Biggar will win his 99th cap at fly-half, with Tomos Williams at scrum half, while the final change sees Jonathan Davies come in to partner Owen Watkin in the midfield.

Nick Tompkins, one of Wales’ in-form players in the Championship so far, has not been considered for selection as he sustained a concussion in Saracens’ victory over Leicester Tigers last Saturday.

Among the replacements, Dillon Lewis returns as tighthead cover and Louis Rees-Zammit is also named. Wyn Jones, Dewi Lake, Jac Morgan and Ross Moriarty are the other forward replacements. Kieran Hardy and Gareth Anscombe provide half back cover.

Pivac said: “Josh [Navidi] is a fantastic player and has played well for us in the past.

“He’s come back before straight back into the side so having 80 minutes under his belt for Cardiff we think that’s enough for him and we look forward to him being back out there bringing that experience.

“He’s a very good player and has played at this level on many occasions so that’s going to be great for us.

“Seb at six just gives us a little bit more size. It helps the lineout, but also in the wider channels where he often runs he’s got the skillset to trouble a few defenders out wide.

“I think Gareth made a really big impact for us last week as did a number of players and so he gets to start. Wyn will finish the game this time as opposed to starting it.

“France are the in-form team in the world at the moment. Any team that can score 40 points against New Zealand plus having recently beaten Ireland in this competition are going to be hard to beat. They have players a number of world class players and are a big side that will test us physically and at the set piece.

“We’re really excited to be back at Principality Stadium this week. The guys love playing at home. It’s just fantastic having the crowd there. I think there’s still a few seats left so we’d encourage people to get along and support the team.”

Wales senior men’s team to face France:

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets – 77 caps)

14. Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 50 caps)

13. Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 29 caps)

12. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets – 95 caps)

11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 37 caps)

10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 98 caps), captain

9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 32 caps)

1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 8 caps)

2. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 26 caps)

3. Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 63 caps)

4. Will Rowlands (Dragons – 16 caps)

5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 32 caps), vice-captain

6. Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 15 caps)

7. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby – 28 caps)

8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby – 87 caps)


16. Dewi Lake (Ospreys – 3 caps)

17. Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 41 caps)

18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 36 caps)

19. Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 52 caps)

20. Jac Morgan (Ospreys – 2 caps)

21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 9 caps)

22. Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 30 caps)

23. Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 14 caps)