Jac Morgan to captain Wales in World Cup warm-up clash against England
Ospreys flanker Jac Morgan will captain Wales in Saturday’s opening World Cup warm-up clash against England at the Principality Stadium.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland has yet to announce his World Cup skipper, though, and says each of the preparation games against England home and away, plus South Africa in Cardiff, could have a different player at the helm.
Centre Max Llewellyn, plus props Corey Domachowski and Keiron Assiratti will make their Test debuts on Saturday.
And former England prop Henry Thomas, who qualifies for Wales through his father and has been able to switch countries under new World Rugby regulations, is among the replacements along with fellow uncapped forward Taine Plumtree.
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny, meanwhile, will win his 100th cap as Wales step up their World Cup preparations.
On the captaincy, Gatland said: “We’ve named Jac as captain for this match, and it is a great honour for him to be leading his country.
“We will be looking at probably having a different captain for each of the matches as we give as many as possible in the squad an opportunity to impress, but also mindful about potential combinations as we get closer to naming the World Cup squad.”
While Morgan has the first opportunity, other players expected to be in the World Cup captaincy shake-up are hooker Dewi Lake, lock Will Rowlands and fly-half Dan Biggar.
Wales tackle England after tough training camps in Switzerland and Turkey, and Gatland is now relishing some competitive action.
“I have been really pleased with the players’ effort and commitment in Turkey, Switzerland and the mini camps in Wales, but now it is about putting what we’ve been training into practice,” he added.
“There is some great competition among the squad in all positions, and we’ve selected a team this week with a few debutants because we want to give them the opportunity to see what they can do.
“There is a lot to play for over the next three matches, and everyone is still in contention to make that final squad for France.”
Llewellyn, who is the son of former Wales lock Gareth Llewellyn, will partner George North in midfield, with Cardiff props Domachowski and Assiratti also gaining immediate chances to impress.
Swansea-born Plumtree, meanwhile, goes straight into the matchday 23 after linking up with the Wales squad ahead of last month’s training trip to Switzerland.
He has played Super Rugby in New Zealand and will be part of the Scarlets set-up next season.
For Halfpenny, Saturday’s game sees him reach three figures almost 15 years after he made his Wales debut as a teenager against South Africa.
Gatland said: “I would like to make a special mention for Leigh Halfpenny, who will win his 100th cap for Wales on Saturday.
“Reaching this milestone is an incredible achievement and testament to the player and person Leigh is. I know it will be a very special day for him and all his family.”
Wales team to play England in Cardiff on Saturday.
L Halfpenny (unattached); L Rees-Zammit (Gloucester), G North (Ospreys), M Llewellyn (Gloucester), R Dyer (Dragons); S Costelow (Scarlets), G Davies (Scarlets); C Domachowski (Cardiff), R Elias (Scarlets), K Assiratti (Cardiff), D Jenkins (Exeter), W Rowlands (Dragons), C Tshiunza (Exeter), J Morgan (Ospreys, capt), A Wainwright (Dragons).
Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), N Smith (Ospreys), H Thomas (Montpellier), B Carter (Dragons), T Plumtree (Scarlets), T Williams (Cardiff), D Biggar (Toulon), M Grady (Cardiff).
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