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Injury-hit Welsh 'more than comfortable' with North's midfield switch

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George North will partner Jamie Roberts in midfield when Wales take on Australia at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

George North will partner Jamie Roberts in midfield when Wales take on Australia at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Getty Images

George North will partner Jamie Roberts in midfield when Wales take on Australia at the Millennium Stadium. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Rob Howley says Wales are "more than comfortable" with switching juggernaut wing George North into the centre for Saturday's autumn Test opener against Australia.

North will partner Jamie Roberts in midfield at the Millennium Stadium after injuries sidelined centres Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams.

While Davies (shoulder) and Williams (hamstring) could both be fit for next week's appointment with Fiji, Wales have turned to North in the short-term as they target a first victory over the Wallabies since 2008.

"George has gone there (centre) before, having been selected against France last season and gone there against Australia (last autumn)," said Howley.

"He is going to be stressed defensively in terms of his decision-making, but we are more than comfortable with George playing in the centre, and having another Lion in Jamie alongside him will give him confidence."

In-form Scarlets back Liam Williams will wear the No 11 shirt usually filled by North, while Rhys Webb has edged out Mike Phillips at scrum-half.

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Bath prop Paul James earns a start ahead of Wales cap centurion Gethin Jenkins, Jake Ball is Alun-Wyn Jones' second-row partner and Dan Lydiate features at blindside flanker despite his lack of game-time with Racing Metro this season.

Webb, skipper Sam Warburton, full-back Leigh Halfpenny and hooker Richard Hibbard all missed Wales' summer tour of South Africa due to injury, but are now back for a demanding autumn campaign that will also see Wales face world champions New Zealand and South Africa.

Webb will partner his Ospreys colleague Dan Biggar at half-back.

Meanwhile, Greig Laidlaw insists he has no problem being Vern Cotter's second choice for the Scotland captaincy.

The Gloucester scrum-half will take over the captaincy duties from Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist for Saturday's opening autumn international against Argentina at Murrayfield.

Gilchrist (24) was due to lead the Scots out for this month's Tests against the Pumas, New Zealand and Tonga but sustained a fractured forearm in the Gunners' European Challenge Cup win over Lyon just four days after being told he was the nation's new on-field leader.

Laidlaw has been promoted but he bears Cotter no hard feelings about being snubbed first time round. "Vern chose Gilcho and that is his choice. I'm just keen to play for Scotland," said the 29-year-old.

Irish Independent