It’s all change for most of the Wales squad ahead of this weekend’s match.
Wales have brought Blues wing Tom James straight into their starting line-up as they make wholesale changes for the final Autumn Internationals clash with New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium this Saturday. Leaving just three players in place from the 16 – 16 draw with Fiji last week.
James has not always seen eye-to-eye with the coach after walking out of the squad before their Six Nations game against Italy earlier in the year.
But he later apologised and is now set to receive his 10th cap this weekend after overcoming injury problems.
Scarlets player, Eighteen-year-old George North, also makes the squad which will face the All Blacks this weekend. With the other two survivors from the Fiji game, Lee Byrne and Adam Jones.
Both Ryan Jones (Ospreys) and Dan Lydiate (Dragons) keep their places in a re-shuffled back row to accommodate Blues flanker Sam Warburton on the openside and Ryan Jones at No 8.
Coach Warren Gatland was hopeful that several injury returns would help boost the sides performance after their dismal draw last weekend:
“Tom James was injured when we named the squad at the start of the series, but he did well for the Blues last Friday night in the game against Ulster, scoring a try in a game they should have won.
“He has genuine pace and that along with size and physicality and some experience at this level are what we are going to need against New Zealand” added Gatland.
Warburton’s return from injury is another boost to Gatland’s squad, as is his regional colleague Gethin Jenkins’ return to fitness – both from calf injuries – in time to face the All Blacks.
Wales: Lee Byrne; George North, Tom Shanklin, James Hook, Tom James; Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees (capt), Adam Jones, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Ryan Jones.
Replacements: Huw Bennett, Paul James, Jonathan Thomas, Andy Powell, Martyn Williams, Richie Rees, Andrew Bishop.
New Zealand: M Muliaina (Chiefs); I Toeava (Blues), C Smith (Hurricanes), SB Williams (Crusaders), H Gear (Hurricanes); D Carter (Crusaders), J Cowan (Highlanders); T Woodcock (Blues), K Mealamu (Blues), O Franks (Crusaders), B Thorn (Crusaders), S Whitelock (Crusaders), J Kaino (Blues), R McCaw (Crusaders, captain), K Read (Crusaders).
Replacements: A Hore (Hurricanes), J Afoa (Blues), A Boric (Blues), D Braid (Queensland Reds), A Ellis (Crusaders), S Donald (Chiefs), M Nonu (Hurricanes).