Beard and Watkin start

Adam Beard and Owen Watkin will start for Wales against Tonga at Principality Stadium on Saturday, 2.30pm KO, in a much changed line-up.

Beard retains his place in the starting line-up from last weekend’s win over Australia to win his seventh cap, making his third appearance of the autumn. It is also a seventh international appearance for Watkin, who is included for the first time this November. 

Aled Davies is the third Osprey in the 23, included on the bench, and will win his 12th cap if he comes on.

Ellis Jenkins will captain Wales for the second time and will lead a side that includes uncapped full-back Jonah Holmes as well as British & Irish Lion Liam Williams who will win his 50th Wales cap.

Williams is named on the wing for his landmark appearance and he will line-up alongside debutant full-back Holmes and Scarlets wing Steff Evans in the back-three.

The midfield comprises of Watkin and Tyler Morgan with Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar, who both featured in the victory over Australia last weekend, named as the half-backs.

In the pack Wyn Jones makes his first start for Wales, with all nine of his current appearances coming from the bench.  Jones packs down alongside Dragons duo Elliot Dee and Leon Brown in the front-row.

Beard is joined by Jake Ball, who has overcome injury to return to the Wales line-up for the first time since last autumn.

In the back-row captain Jenkins is named alongside Aaron Wainwright who makes his first start for his country and Cardiff Blues’ Seb Davies who packs down at No. 8.

Davies, who has been training with the squad during spells this autumn, is officially called into the squad and will make his seventh appearance for Wales.

Saturday is a fantastic opportunity for a number of players,” said head coach Warren Gatland.

“It’s Jonah’s first game which is exciting and Liam reaches his 50th which is a great achievement.

“We are looking forward to the challenge of Tonga.  They had a great win last weekend against the French Barbarians and we know it is going to be a tough, physical challenge.

“We have spoken about creating depth and for us that is all about creating a squad that is full of first-teamers, everyone in the squad capable of starting.  The boys this weekend have to put their hand up for the final match and put pressure on the players who started last weekend.

“Ellis captains the team for the second time whilst making his first start at home and for Wyn, it is his first start in about nine appearances off the bench.

“It’s important to realise when selecting a team that we look at all these things in terms of experience, starts, depth balance and opportunity, and all that goes into the mix.”

On the bench Ryan Elias, Rob Evans and Tomas Francis provide the front-row cover with Cory Hill and Ross Moriarty completing the forward contingent.  Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell and Josh Adams provide the back-line cover.


WALES TEAM TO PLAY TONGA (Saturday November 17 KO 2.30):

15. Jonah Holmes (*Uncapped)

14. Liam Williams (49 Caps)

13. Tyler Morgan (4 Caps)

12. Owen Watkin (6 Caps)

11. Steff Evans (11 Caps)

10. Dan Biggar (63 Caps)

9. Tomos Williams (4 Caps)

1. Wyn Jones (9 Caps)

2. Elliot Dee (11 Caps)

3. Leon Brown (4 Caps)

4. Jake Ball (28 Caps)

5. Adam Beard (6 Caps)

6. Aaron Wainwright (1 Cap)

7. Ellis Jenkins (9 Caps) (Capt)

8. Seb Davies (6 Caps)



16. Ryan Elias (5 Caps)

17. Rob Evans (29 Caps)

18. Tomas Francis (34 Caps)

19. Cory Hill (20 Caps)

20. Ross Moriarty (25 Caps)

21. Aled Davies (11 Caps)

22. Rhys Patchell (10 Caps)

23. Josh Adams (5 Caps)