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Gatland urges Welsh to 'leave with heads held high'

WALES have named their strongest available team for Friday's World Cup third-place playoff against Australia, an indication of their determination to win the match and leave New Zealand with their heads held high.

WALES Coach Warren Gatland has made three changes to the side which lost 9-8 to France in the semi-finals, one forced by captain Sam Warburton's three-week ban after his dismissal for a spear tackle on French winger Vincent Clerc.

Sometimes described as the 'losers' final', the game between the sides defeated in the semi-final is often unwanted by players and fans alike.

Gatland said, however, that having gained so much respect for the style of rugby they have played at the tournament, it was important for the Welsh to end on a high note.

"We've tried to pick the strongest side available to us," the New Zealander said today. "It would be easy to get our heads down and not give the performance we know we are capable of but, if this team goes out and performs as they can, we can leave here with our heads held high."

Toby Faletau moves from No 8 to openside flanker in place of Warburton, while experienced prop Gethin Jenkins takes over as captain for the match at Eden Park.


Ryan Jones comes into the back row in place of Faletau and prop Paul James starts in the front row in place of Adam Jones, who was forced off the pitch with a calf injury last Saturday.

Lock Alun Wyn-Jones drops to the subs and is replaced in the second row by Bradley Davies. Loose forward Andy Powell and prop Ryan Bevington are the additions to the bench.

James Hook retains the starting fly-half position in the continued absence of Rhys Priestland, who injured his shoulder in the quarter-final against Ireland, with Stephen Jones again backing up on the bench.

WALES (v Australia): L Halfpenny, G North, J Davies, J Roberts, S Williams, J Hook, M Phillips, R Jones, T Faletau, D Lydiate, B Davies, L Charteris, P James, H Bennett, G Jenkins (Capt). Replacements: L Burns, R Bevington, A Wyn Jones, A Powell, L Williams, S Jones, S Williams.