Dragons star Rio Dyer handed debut for Wales’ in All Blacks Test
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has handed Dragons wing Rio Dyer a Test debut in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series clash against New Zealand.
The 22-year-old starts, with Josh Adams, who had been nursing a hand injury, not in the matchday 23.
Elsewhere, Leigh Halfpenny will make his Wales return after a 16-month absence from Test rugby.
The Scarlets full-back suffered serious knee ligament damage during Wales’ victory over Canada last year.
Hooker Ken Owens, who has not played for Wales since the 2021 Six Nations due to a back problem, starts in the front-row alongside Gareth Thomas and Tomas Francis.
Pivac has replaced injured fly-half Dan Biggar with Gareth Anscombe, while captain Justin Tipuric and his fellow openside flanker Tommy Reffell pack down in the back-row, with Taulupe Faletau at number eight.
Tipuric last represented Wales almost 20 months ago, having been sidelined because of a serious shoulder injury, while Leicester forward Reffell is retained following an outstanding Test series against South Africa this summer.
Cardiff’s Tomos Williams has won the scrum-half vote ahead of Kieran Hardy, with considerable replacements’ bench experience provided by Alun Wyn Jones and Rhys Priestland.
Exeter forward Christ Tshiunza is also among the replacements, making Wales’ matchday group following some impressive displays for the Chiefs this season.
On Dyer’s selection, Pivac said: “Rio has fitted in really well and really quickly. He is thriving in this environment.
“He is a young man that is bringing some form with him into camp. He has scored some great tries and he is full of confidence.”
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 32 successive Tests against them, with 24 of those losses being by 15 points and more.
“New Zealand are going to play with speed, we know that,” Pivac added.
“The roof is closed, so we are looking forward to a fast, open game, and I think Justin (Tipuric) brings that extra bit of speed to the number six jersey.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than Wales-New Zealand. We can’t wait for it.
“The players are looking forward to it and we just want the fans to get in there and be loud and really get behind the boys and be that 16th player that we know they are.”
Wales team to play New Zealand on Saturday.
L Halfpenny (Scarlets); L Rees-Zammit (Gloucester), G North (Ospreys), N Tompkins (Saracens), R Dyer (Dragons); G Anscombe (Ospreys), T Williams (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Ospreys), W Rowlands (Dragons), A Beard (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys, capt), T Reffell (Leicester), T Faletau (Cardiff).
Replacements: R Elias (Scarlets), N Smith (Ospreys), D Lewis (Cardiff), A W Jones (Ospreys), C Tshiunza (Exeter), K Hardy (Scarlets), R Priestland (Cardiff), O Watkin (Ospreys).
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Pob lwc Rio. Cyffroes i weld shwd aiff ef.