Saturday 7 December 2019

North injury gives Williams chance against Springboks

Liam Williams will have the chance to set the record straight for Wales against South Africa tomorrow. Michael Steele/Getty Images
Liam Williams will have the chance to set the record straight for Wales against South Africa tomorrow. Michael Steele/Getty Images
Rob Simmons is the sixth Wallabies star to reach 50 caps in 2014. Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Andrew Baldock

INJURY has forced George North out of Warren Gatland's plans for Wales' autumn Test finale, giving Liam Williams the chance to set the record straight against South Africa tomorrow.

The Northampton wing suffered a blow to his head during last weekend's 34-16 loss to world champions New Zealand and is replaced in the number 11 shirt by Williams. Two switches up front sees prop Gethin Jenkins replace Paul James while Scott Baldwin takes over at hooker at the expense of Richard Hibbard.

Both James and Hibbard have returned to their respective clubs Bath and Gloucester, being unavailable for Wales duty as the game falls outside the international window.

North's absence was widely expected, and it sees a start for Williams, who has been among Wales' most impressive performers during the current autumn campaign.

It also means he faces South Africa five months after he was heavily involved in late drama during Wales' second Test defeat against the Springboks in Nelspruit.

Wales led throughout the game, but South Africa gained a decisive penalty try two minutes from time after Williams was ruled to have tackled an opponent by leading with his shoulder.

The Springboks' 31-30 success was rough justice on Wales, yet it gave South Africa a 16th successive win in the fixture since suffering a Millennium Stadium loss 15 years ago. Wales have only beaten South Africa, New Zealand or Australia once in 27 attempts under Gatland.

Aaron Jarvis and Rhodri Jones will provide prop cover on the bench, where James King is the back-row option and fly-half Rhys Priestland is recalled as Dan Biggar's back-up.

Aussies recall Horne

Lock Rob Simmons will win his 50th Australia cap in tomorrow's eagerly-awaited autumn Test clash with England at Twickenham.

The 25-year-old is the sixth Wallabies star to reach 50 caps in 2014 and retains his place in a starting line-up which shows three changes to the side that suffered a 26-23 defeat to Ireland.

The versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper has to switch to outside centre after Tevita Kuridrani suffered an ankle problem, with Rob Horne starting on the wing, while Sean McMahon returns at flanker.

Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley continue as half-backs, again joined by centre Matt Toomua in what proved a dangerous axis despite defeat in Dublin last weekend.

The Wallabies are yet to finalise their replacements, but just as he did against Ireland last week, coach Michael Cheika is once again expected to include giant lock Will Skelton and playmaking trio Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale.

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