Lions trio fail to make Wales starting line-up for Scotland clash
Wales boss Warren Gatland has left out three British and Irish Lions – Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau – from the starting line-up for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Scotland.
The trio boast 342 Wales caps and 18 Lions Test appearances between them.
Lock Jones, who failed a head injury assessment against Ireland last weekend but was ruled available for selection, and flanker Tipuric are not in the matchday 23 for Murrayfield, while number eight Faletau has to be content with a bench spot.
They represent huge selection calls by Gatland following Ireland’s dominant 34-10 victory in Cardiff.
Exeter lock Dafydd Jenkins replaces Jones, with his Chiefs colleague Christ Tshiunza packing down at blindside flanker in a reshaped back row that sees Leicester’s Tommy Reffell taking the number seven shirt off Tipuric and Jac Morgan switching to number eight instead of Faletau.
Lock Jones was cleared to add to his world record 168 Test match appearances in Wales and Lions colours despite going off during the second half against Ireland.
But Gatland has handed 20-year-old Jenkins a first international start alongside second-row partner Adam Beard, with 21-year-old Tshiunza also making a full Test bow.
Two other changes see Scarlets prop Wyn Jones recalled instead of Gareth Thomas, while tighthead Dillon Lewis replaces Tomas Francis, with Gatland retaining the back division that started against Ireland.
Jones, who will be 38 later this year, misses out to a player 17 years his junior, but one who has already captained Exeter in the Gallagher Premiership.
Tshiunza, meanwhile, offers a ball-carrying presence and a considerable lineout option, with that critical set-piece department having proved a major problem area during the Ireland defeat.
Faletau apart, changes among the replacements include opportunities for uncapped Ospreys lock Rhys Davies, Dragons prop Leon Brown and Scarlets back Rhys Patchell.
Wales have won on six of their last seven trips to Edinburgh, but they will encounter a Scotland side fresh from defeating England at Twickenham last time out.
Gatland said: “We’ve made some changes but tried to keep some continuity with the same backline.
“Dafydd Jenkins comes into the second row, looking a bit to the future. Christ Tshiunza as well. We are looking at options at eight if Toby (Taulupe) Faletau picks up an injury, so Jac gets that chance.
“We thought we created opportunities last week but we weren’t clinical enough in terms of finishing off some of those chances.
“We need to start better. We gave away some stupid penalties and unforced penalties when we weren’t really under a lot of pressure, so that has again been an area that we’ve spoken about.
“We have tried to focus on the positives and the things that we can address ourselves.”
Wales team to play Scotland in the Guinness Six Nations Championship at Murrayfield on Saturday.
L Williams (Cardiff); J Adams (Cardiff), G North (Ospreys), J Hawkins (Ospreys), R Dyer (Dragons); D Biggar (Toulon), T Williams (Cardiff); W Jones (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets, capt), D Lewis (Cardiff), D Jenkins (Exeter), A Beard (Ospreys), C Tshiunza (Exeter), T Reffell (Leicester), J Morgan (Ospreys).
Replacements: S Baldwin (Ospreys), R Carre (Cardiff), L Brown (Dragons), R Davies (Ospreys), T Faletau (Cardiff), R Webb (Ospreys), R Patchell (Scarlets), A Cuthbert (Ospreys).
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Rhys Webb is too slow for international rugby now, Brown being given yet another chance when we’ve been waiting forever for him to come through isn’t a good sign for how we’re developing next generation and so many changes up front might be cause for concern for our scrum work.
Backs being given another chance is the right call, imo, and happy to see AWJ protected.