Wales' Tipuric returns for Autumn Nations opener against Ireland

·2-min read
Wales flanker Justin Tipuric has been recalled for the start of the Autumn Nations Cup
Wales flanker Justin Tipuric has been recalled for the start of the Autumn Nations Cup

Wales coach Wayne Pivac made just the one change to his starting side on Tuesday as he looks to end a run of five straight defeats by recalling Justin Tipuric for the Autumn Nations Cup opener away to Ireland in Dublin on Friday.

Dynamic flanker Tipuric missed Wales' 14-10 loss to Scotland in their coronavirus-delayed Six Nations finale at Llanelli on October 31 after withdrawing shortly before kick-off with tonsilitis.

But he has now been passed fit, with Tipuric replacing James Davies in the back row.

Pivac, who succeeded fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland as Wales coach after last year's World Cup, has otherwise kept faith with the team that lost to Scotland.

By contrast, this week saw a major shake-up of Pivac's backroom staff, with Byron Hayward ditched as Wales' defence coach just a year after his appointment.

Pivac, has however, made changes to his bench in the team he announced Wednesday, with uncapped Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy, hooker Elliot Dee, prop Samson Lee, lock Jake Ball and experienced wing George North among the replacements.

Meanwhile, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones is set to make his 150th Test appearance, a tally that includes matches for the British and Irish Lions, after surpassing retired New Zealand great Richie McCaw's world record in the Scotland game.

"Friday night is the start of a new international season and a new campaign, and we are looking forward to getting out there and showing what we can do," said Pivac in a Welsh Rugby Union statement.

"We have got four matches in the Autumn Nations Cup to perform and we are excited to be kicking the tournament off," added the Wales boss, whose team will also play Six Nations champions England and Georgia before ending the tournament with a play-off game.

The newly-created Autumn Nations Cup came into being when it emerged that the major southern hemisphere nations -- South Africa, New Zealand and Australia -- would not undertake their usual end-of-year tours of Europe because of Covid-19 restrictions.

It features Europe's Six Nations plus Georgia and Fiji, with teams split into two pools of four.

After three rounds of group games, the pool winners will play off on the weekend of December 5-6 to decide the tournament winner, with the remaining teams facing the side that finished in the same position in the opposite group.

Wales (15-1)

Leigh Halfpenny; Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Shane Lewis-Hughes; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Will Rowlands; Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Lloyd Williams, Callum Sheedy, George North

Coach: Wayne Pivac (NZL)