Taulupe Faletau to earn his 100th cap for Wales against France

Warren Gatland makes six changes for Wales’ Six Nations clash with France despite his side returning to winning ways against Italy last weekend… with Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones recalled, while Taulupe Faletau is set to win his 100th cap

  • Warren Gatland has named his team for Wales’ Six Nations clash with France
  • Taulupe Faletau will start at No 8 and earn his 100th cap in the process
  • Fly-half Dan Biggar is back in the team after recovering from a recent injury 

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has made sweeping changes to his team for the fifth straight Six Nations match as a daunting ‘Super Saturday’ clash with red-hot France awaits.

Gatland has rotated his side throughout the Championship in search of a winning formula in what is his first campaign back in charge after succeeding Wayne Pivac.

That theme has continued with Dan Biggar, George North, Nick Tompkins and Alun Wyn Jones all returning to the team for France after missing the win over Italy.

In total, Gatland has made six changes from the XV which won in Rome for France.

Louis Rees-Zammit, who was on the bench in Italy, starts at full-back instead of his usual position of wing. Tompkins and North are reunited in the midfield as Gatland’s centre pairing.

Dan Biggar has been brought back into the team for this weekend’s clash in Paris

Alun Wyn Jones has also been recalled to the starting XV for Saturday’s match

Taulupe Faletau is set to make his 100th appearance for Wales against France on Saturday

That means there is no place for young guns Joe Hawkins and Mason Grady who had started the previous two matches. Wales’ back-line was ripped to shreds even in victory in Rome.

‘Last weekend was really important for us getting a win in the Six Nations and building a bit of confidence. It was a step in the right direction but there’s still lots for us to work on,’ Gatland said.

‘We’ve worked hard on a few things in terms of tidying some of the defensive lapses we’ve made and getting some of those things right. We’re still working hard on our attack.

‘France last weekend put in probably one of the best performances seen in a long, long time.

‘They’re the No 2 team in the world. They bring a really physical approach to the way they play and they’ve tended to start well.

‘That’s the important thing. We’ve got to start well, make sure we’re in that arm wrestle with them, and give ourselves that opportunity.

‘They’re a team that kick the ball a lot, so we’ve also got to make sure our backfield is right and we’ve got to be good in the air.’

Wales have been preparing for France with a training camp in Nice on the Cote d’Azur.

Warren Gatland is hoping his side can finish on a high after a difficult Six Nations campaign

They will travel to Paris on Thursday afternoon.

For the game at the Stade de France, Biggar is back at fly-half and replaces Owen Williams at No 10.Jones, the world’s record cap holder, is back alongside Adam Beard at lock.

In the back-row, Taulupe Faletau is set to win his 100th Wales cap at No 8 with Aaron Wainwright making his first appearance of the Six Nations at blindside flanker.

Wainwright replaces Jac Morgan who has an ankle injury.

On Faletau’s milestone appearance, Gatland added: ‘Toby has been a fantastic servant for Welsh rugby. Even though he’s reaching 100 caps he’s still pretty quiet, but he’s incredibly well respected by the players for what he’s achieved.

‘I remember in the early years he was just a constant and he became absolutely world class in terms of his performances.

‘There are a lot of things people don’t see in terms of his ability to read the game. He’ll run support lines people don’t see. You see that when you’re going back through the videos and there have been times where he’s been on the end of a pass and scored tries.

‘We saw that last week. Rhys Webb makes a break and Toby scores a try.

France head coach Fabien Galthie has made two changes to the team that thrashed England

‘Getting 100 caps is a great recognition for what he’s achieved in the game. It’s fantastic for him and his family and hopefully we can go out there and give him a really good performance and something for him to remember.’

France, who hammered England 53-10 at Twickenham last weekend, are firm favourites for victory over Wales.

Les Bleus can still win the title if they beat Wales by enough points and Grand Slam-chasing Ireland lose at home to England.

Fabien Galthie, France head coach, has made two changes to his side for Wales with Romain Taofifenua replacing the injured Paul Willemse at lock and Uini Atonio starting at prop.

FRANCE-WALES TEAMS

France: Ramos; Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Dumortier; Ntamack, Dupont (capt); Baille, Marchand, Atonio, Flament, Taofifenua, Cros, Ollivon, Alldritt

Replacements: Mauvaka, Wardi, Falatea, Chalureau, Macalou, Lucu, Moefana, Jaminet

Wales: Rees-Zammit; Adams, North, Tompkins, Dyer; Biggar, Webb; W Jones, Owens (capt), Francis, Beard, AW Jones, Wainwright, Tipuric, Faletau.

Replacements: Roberts, Thomas, Lewis, Jenkins, Reffell, T Williams, O Williams, Halfpenny

Kick-off: 2.45pm Saturday

Venue: Stade de France, Paris

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)

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