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Scarlets’ Joe Roberts set for Wales debut in much-changed team for England clash

09 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Scarlets’ Joe Roberts celebrates victory following the European Challenge Cup, Quarter Final match at the Parc y Scarlets, Image by David Davies PA Images

Scarlets centre Joe Roberts will make his Wales debut in a team showing 15 changes for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up clash against England at Twickenham.

Roberts, 23, is partnered in midfield by Nick Tompkins, while there are also starts for the likes of wing Tom Rogers, fly-half Owen Williams, lock Rhys Davies and flanker Tommy Reffell.

Hooker Dewi Lake captains a side that sees Taine Plumtree, who lines up at number eight, handed his first Test start following an impressive performance off the bench in Wales’ 20-9 victory over England last weekend.

Wing Josh Adams, who was top try-scorer at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, wins his 50th cap.

There are two uncapped players among the replacements, meanwhile, in Scarlets prop Kemsley Mathias and Ospreys centre Keiran Williams.

Experienced Ospreys flanker Dan Lydiate makes a first Test start since last autumn, while it is more than two years since Rogers featured in Wales colours.

And Lake has an opportunity to push his claims as Wales’ possible World Cup skipper following an impressive leadership job performed by flanker Jac Morgan against England in Cardiff.


Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “There is an opportunity for another group of players who weren’t involved last week. There is some great competition within the squad.

“I was pretty pleased with the team performance and the result last week. It wasn’t perfect, but there is a chance now for this group to go out on Saturday and to put down their own marker.

“Like I said, there is some real competition and perhaps a bit of pressure on this group as well. Then we will look potentially what the make-up of the team is the following week against South Africa.”

On the captaincy, Gatland added: “I have been really impressed with Dewi. Like Jac, he is well respected in the group, he has got a voice and he has confidence about himself and his own ability.

“We are in a bit of transition, so in the back of my mind I was thinking we are building not only for the next few months but also starting to think about what we need to do with the next cycle of players going forwards towards 2027.”

Gatland also had praise for Adams, who has scored 20 tries for Wales and stands equal sixth alongside Sir Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies and Tom Shanklin on his country’s all-time list.

“I have a huge amount of respect for Josh,” Gatland said.

“I had a chat to him when he came into the squad – I felt he wasn’t as sharp as I’ve seen him in the past, and he agreed with that.

“He has worked hard. He is looking really sharp in training at the moment, so to get to earn his 50th cap is a fantastic achievement.

“He has been through some adversity – he had to leave Wales to go to the Premiership before we could get him back – but he has come through it and he is a really popular member of the group.”

Wales team to play England in the Summer Nations Series at Twickenham on Saturday August 12 (5.30pm KO):

L Williams (Kubota Spears); J Adams (Cardiff), J Roberts (Scarlets), N Tompkins (Saracens), T Rogers (Scarlets); O Williams (Ospreys), T Williams (Cardiff); G Thomas (Ospreys), D Lake (Ospreys, capt), T Francis (Provence), R Davies (Ospreys), A Beard (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Ospreys), T Reffell (Leicester), T Plumtree (Scarlets).

Replacements: S Parry (Ospreys), K Mathias (Scarlets), D Lewis (Harlequins), C Tshiunza (Exeter), T Basham (Dragons), K Hardy (Scarlets), D Biggar (Toulon), K Williams (Ospreys).

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