Priestland named at first-five for Wales

Rhys Priestland has been named ahead of Stephen Jones. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Rhys Priestland has been named ahead of Stephen Jones. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Wales coach Warren Gatland named Rhys Priestland ahead of Stephen Jones at first-five today in one of seven changes to his team for their final World Cup Pool D match against Fiji.

Wales' most capped player Jones was forced to make do with a place on the bench despite a strong display in Monday's win over Namibia, with Priestland preferred for Sunday's match in Hamilton where a bonus point should guarantee a quarter-final berth.

Winger Shane Williams was not considered because of a thigh problem so George North and Leigh Halfpenny start on the flanks. Lee Byrne will join them in the back three with fullback James Hook still nursing a shoulder injury.

"Shane might have been available to us if we had pushed him, but he has taken a limited part in training this week and we are happy with the back three we have been able to put on the field for this game," Gatland said in a statement.

Powerful ball carrier Jamie Roberts returns at inside centre and is sure to be excited at the prospect of attacking the Fijian defence which has looked flimsy at times during the tournament.

Despite the defensive woes which contributed to losses to pool rivals South Africa and Samoa, the Fijians can still qualify but would need a bonus-point win over Wales and other results to go their way.

In the front row, Gatland recalled hooker Huw Bennett ahead of Lloyd Burns and prop Adam Jones in place of Craig Mitchell.

Dan Lydiate remains out of the side because of an ankle injury so former captain Ryan Jones continues in the loose forwards alongside skipper Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau.

Team: 15-Lee Byrne, 14-George North, 13-Scott Williams, 12-Jamie Roberts, 11-Leigh Halfpenny, 10-Rhys Priestland, 9-Mike Phillips, 8-Toby Faletau, 7-Sam Warburton (c), 6-Ryan Jones, 5-Luke Charteris, 4-Bradley Davies, 3-Adam Jones, 2-Huw Bennett, 1-Gethin Jenkins.

Replacements: 16-Lloyd Burns, 17-Paul James, 18-Alun Wyn Jones, 19-Andy Powell, 20-Lloyd Williams, 21-Stephen Jones, 22-Jonathan Davies.

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