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Injury forces Warren Gatland to shuffle Welsh pack


Wales head coach Warren Gatland

Wales head coach Warren Gatland

Wales head coach Warren Gatland

George North will start in the centre when Wales open their autumn Test campaign against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

With Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams both absent due to injuries, Wales head coach Warren Gatland has switched juggernaut Northampton wing North into midfield, where he will be partnered by Jamie Roberts.

In-form Scarlets back Liam Williams will wear the number 11 shirt, while Rhys Webb has edged out Mike Phillips for the scrum-half role.

Up front, Bath prop Paul James earns a start ahead of 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 French club Racing Metro this season.

"We have spoken a lot about this autumn and the year ahead, and we are really excited to kick off the campaign," Gatland said.

"It's good to be able to bring back a number of players who missed the last two Tests, and they add to what is a very experienced side. Injuries in the midfield means we get to see Jamie and George line up together there again and we were pleased with how that went earlier in the year.

"The last few outings against Australia have been tight. We are expecting the same this weekend and its going to be another huge battle, but it's a challenge we are really looking forward to."

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named Greig Laidlaw as his replacement skipper for the Dark Blues' opening autumn international with Argentina at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

The Gloucester scrum-half will take over the captaincy duties from Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist, who has been ruled out of this month's Tests against the Pumas, New Zealand and Tonga.

Laidlaw, who skippered Edinburgh for three seasons before departing for Gloucester in the summer, has led Scotland on seven occasions so far, including Cotter's first matches in charge.

Belfast Telegraph