Thursday 26 April 2018

Wales star Alex Cuthbert makes surprise return for Wallabies clash

Wales' Alex Cuthbert
Wales' Alex Cuthbert

Andrew Baldock

British and Irish Lions wing Alex Cuthbert has made a surprise return to the Wales team for Saturday's autumn international against Australia in Cardiff.

Cuthbert suffered an ankle injury during Cardiff Blues' Heineken Cup victory over holders Toulon last month and missed the opening three November Tests against South Africa, Argentina and Tonga.

But his record at the highest level as a proven tryscorer means he is rushed back for Saturday as Wales look to claim their first major southern hemisphere scalp since beating Australia five years ago.

Elsewhere flanker Dan Lydiate features in the back row with Justin Tipuric on the bench, while Dan Biggar wins Wales coach Warren Gatland's fly-half vote ahead of Rhys Priestland, who is among the replacements.

Cuthbert, who has scored nine tries in his 18 appearances for Wales, will line-up in an experienced back-three with George North (Northampton Saints) and Cardiff Blues' Leigh Halfpenny.

Scarlets centre Scott Williams has recovered from a toe injury and will line-up alongside Cardiff Blues centre Owen Williams, who scored on his first outing at the Millennium Stadium against Tonga last Friday.

Gethin Jenkins, who became a centurion on his last outing for Wales a fortnight ago, returns with Richard Hibbard to the front-row and Rhodri Jones will start his third consecutive game at tight-head.

British and Irish Lions duo Ian Evans and Alun Wyn Jones, who started all five of Wales' 2013 RBS 6 Nations games together, renew their partnership in the second-row.

"It's great to have Alex and Scott available and they bring a lot of experience into the backline," said Gatland.

"Alex and the medical teams have worked really hard to ensure he is ready for this weekend and it's great to be able to bring him back into the side.

"We thought Owen (Williams) performed well in the centre against Tonga and he gets another opportunity on Saturday.

"There is a lot of experience in the pack for what is going to be a very physical game. We are looking to finish the series off well. The last three games against Australia have gone right down to the wire and I don't expect anything different this weekend."

On the bench Scarlets scrum-half Rhodri Williams, who made his debut as a second-half replacement against Tonga, keeps his place in the matchday squad.

Online Editors

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