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Wales change eight for Fiji Test
Vereniki Goneva has joined the Vodafone FLying FIjians camp after visa problems left him out of the Test against France last week. He may make the starting line-up against Wales this weekend.

Wales change eight for Fiji Test

Wales made eight changes after the 33-28 loss to Australia for the test against Fiji on Saturday, mindful of giving some experience and resting others for the All Blacks next week.

“Even though we’ve made eight changes, there’s a lot of firepower in the team,” coach Warren Gatland said when announcing his line-up.

Fiji names its team tomorrow and changes are expected as well, although coach John McKee says there are no injury worries after last weekend’s loss to the French in Marseille.

“We’ve tried 10-11 changes in the past and lost games. You can’t coach experience and it’s about how you develop that. After the game (last Saturday), Scott Baldwin said Ospreys against Northampton was quick, but Australia was something else. You only learn that by playing,” said Gatland.

Baldwin will make his first start for Wales between tighthead prop Gethin Jenkins, who will captain the side for a fourth time, and loosehead Samson Lee. Jenkins, capped 108 times by Wales, was dropped to the reserves for the Wallabies game last weekend.

France-based Luke Charteris, unavailable to face the Wallabies, and Bradley Davies come into the second row, and Justin Tipuric replaces regular skipper Sam Warburton on the openside flank.

In the backline, Mike Phillips and Rhys Priestland are the new halves pair. Gatland wanted to continue with scrumhalf Rhys Webb, but a sore neck sidelined him and Phillips will start.

Scott Williams recovered from a hamstring injury to play at centre, George North moved from centre back to his normal left wing, and Liam Williams moved off that wing to fullback, where he has excelled for Scarlets.

Uncapped prop Nicky Smith is in the reserves.

Flyhalf Dan Biggar (groin injury), centre Jonathan Davies (shoulder) and fullback Leigh Halfpenny (concussion) weren’t considered.

Gatland said Davies wasn’t ready to play Fiji, and his lack of game time could make it tough to play him against New Zealand the following Saturday.

“We were pleased with the performance last week, and we will be looking to build on that and get the result we want this weekend,” Gatland said. “We don’t feel the changes weaken the side.”

Like Australia, Fiji is also in Wales’ pool at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Fiji lost to France 40-15 in Marseille on Saturday, and was bolstered by Ospreys centre Josh Matavesi and Leicester centre Vereniki Goneva on Monday.

Wales: Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, George North, Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, Luke Charteris, Bradley Davies, Samson Lee, Scott Baldwin, Gethin Jenkins (captain). Reserves: Emyr Phillips, Nicky Smith, Rhodri Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, James King, Rhodri Williams, James Hook, Cory Allen.


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