Tomos Williams will make his Six Nations debut for Wales against France on Friday and Gareth Anscombe is preferred to Dan Biggar for the first game of the tournament in Paris.

Scrum-half Williams gets the nod over Gareth Davies, and his Cardiff Blues team-mate Anscombe retains the number 10 shirt for the Stade de France showdown, with Biggar on the bench.

Liam Williams switches to full-back in the absence of Leigh Halfpenny (concussion), so Josh Adams comes in on the left wing.

Adam Beard keeps his place in the second row alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones, while Ross Moriarty has overcome concussion to don the number eight shirt.

Josh Navidi has also recovered from injury to take his place in the back row along with British and Irish Lions flanker Justin Tipuric.

Coach Warren Gatland has once again gone with the midfield pairing of Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies.

 

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Samson Lee, Cory Hill, Aaron Wainwright, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.

Uncapped teenager Romain Ntamack has been preferred to the axed Mathieu Bastareaud in the France team for the Six Nations opener against Wales on Friday.

Centre Bastareaud - who captained France last year - not only misses out on a place in the starting line-up, but he will not be on the bench at Stade de France either.

Coach Jacques Brunel has put his faith in the 19-year-old Ntamack, whose father, Emile, won 46 caps for Les Bleus, to take on Warren Gatland's side after some eye-catching displays for Toulouse and France Under-20s.

Ntamack - the youngest player in any of this year's Six Nations squads - will be paired with Wesley Fofana, while South African-born lock Paul Willemse will also make his debut in Paris.

Brunel has reunited experienced scrum-half Morgan Parra and fly-half Camille Lopez for the start of the tournament.

Promising pop Demba Bamba, who made his international bow against Fiji last November, has only been named among the replacements.

 

France: Maxime Medard, Damian Penaud, Wesley Fofana, Romain Ntamack, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Uini Atonio, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Paul Willemse, Wenceslas Lauret, Arthur Iturria, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Julien Marchand, Dany Priso, Demba Bamba, Felix Lambey, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Gaël Fickou, Geoffrey Doumayrou.

Gareth Davies has handed Wales a huge injury boost after being passed fit for Friday's Six Nations opener against France.

Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey has been charged by the Football Association (FA) over a social media post in which he made an alleged Nazi salute.

Warren Gatland says Leigh Halfpenny is unlikely to play in Wales' first two Six Nations matches, while Gareth Davies and Scott Williams are also set to miss the opener against France.

Halfpenny has been out since suffering concussion in the victory over Australia in November and the full-back is not expected to return until the home clash with England on February 23, at the earliest.

Wales also look likely to be without scrum-half Davies and centre Williams when they take on Les Bleus in the opening game of the tournament at Stade de France a week on Friday.

In a news conference at the Six Nations launch on Wednesday, Gatland said: "Leigh Halfpenny is unlikely to play the first couple of games, Gareth Davies has a quad strain and Scott Williams an ankle injury.

"Those three are unlikely to be considered against France. We will know more after we come into camp this weekend.

"Only 27 of the 39 players in the squad were able to take a full part in training on our first day together because of knocks."

The Wales head coach added: "For us, it's [about] easing Leigh back in slowly. It's been tough for him but he's been philosophical; he's lucky his partner has given birth and he's been working on his kicking with Neil Jenkins.

"His well-being is the most important thing for us."

Jake Ball is the only Wales player who will be released to play for his region, the lock set to feature for the Scarlets against Leinster in the Pro14 on Friday.

Warren Gatland is waiting for a "concrete" offer before deciding on his next coaching venture after Wales.

The New Zealander will oversee his final Six Nations campaign before leaving his post after 12 years following the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Gatland this week revealed he has held informal talks about the possibility of leading the British and Irish Lions for a third consecutive tour when they visit South Africa in 2021.

In terms of a permanent position, Gatland is hoping to take a short break after the World Cup before aiming to take a post in New Zealand, while also refusing to rule out another stint in the Premiership or venture to France or Japan.

"I have had a couple of discussions but there is definitely nothing concrete. Maybe at the end of the World Cup I will be unemployed," he said.

"I was looking to take a few months off and then start looking in the middle of 2020, potentially do some Super Rugby in New Zealand if there was an opportunity.

"But I am also aware that there are not a lot of jobs in New Zealand. That might not be an option.

"So [it could be] back in club rugby in the Premiership, or France or Japan, or something like that."

Under Gatland, Wales are two-time Six Nations Grand Slam winners and have another title to their name, while they reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup.

"I take a lot of pride in the fact we go out there and it doesn't matter who we play, they know they are in for one hell of a tough game," Gatland added.

"I've watched and been to a number of games at the old Millennium Stadium and seen the All Blacks put out a second-string team against Wales. There is no way they would do that now.

"We've put ourselves in positions where we should have beaten Australia on more occasions, but we've been pretty good against South Africa in winning five of our last six games.

"Success for me is not always about winning, it's about over-achieving.

"If you look at [Premier League] football and a team like Bournemouth, they've been successful because they are over-achieving in terms of what people expect.

"If Cardiff City stay up this season they will have been successful and over-achieved because everyone expects them to get relegated. That's the way I look at things.

"For me it's not always about winning, it's about becoming hard to beat, and if you do that you get a sense of pride in how you do things. Then it's about winning more often and developing your game."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is confident his side can win his final Six Nations in the job after naming his squad on Tuesday.

Gatland announced a 39-man selection for the championship, which kicks off for Wales against France on February 1.

The New Zealander, who will be replaced by Wayne Pivac after the Rugby World Cup, has had to negotiate a number of injury concerns in shaping his squad - not least a broken arm sustained by Taulupe Faletau at the weekend.

But Gatland remains positive about his team's chances and says the opening fixture in Paris will be key to the success of their campaign.

“I think we’ve got a great chance of winning the Six Nations, if we win that opening game," Gatland said.

"That first game is going to be our toughest. We feel like we are in as good a position as anybody to do well.

"The whole thing about the Six Nations is momentum. If you can win your first couple of games, then you have a great chance of being in contention on the last weekend.

"This is competition time. The autumn was great, but it wasn’t about points.

"This is what we are going to experience in Japan [at the World Cup], so it’s about fronting up and winning games, playing some good rugby, but also thinking about tournament rugby."

Leigh Halfpenny and Ross Moriarty have been included despite being sidelined with concussion - the Scarlets full-back since November and the Dragons back-row forward since mid-December.

"It's important that we don't rush him [Moriarty] back and hopefully he starts training and potentially he will have a game before the Six Nations," he said.

"We'll see where he [Halfpenny] is at. He's been advised to continue training and ... if he's right, he'll be in contention but if not we'll have to make some other plans."

Gatland added of fly-half Dan Biggar (knee): "Dan has a medial injury but he's a fast healer and hopefully he might be in contention for this game."

Leigh Halfpenny has been included in Wales' Six Nations squad and Thomas Young was also called up on Tuesday.

Halfpenny has not played since suffering concussion against Australia in November and is expected to miss at least the first two games of the competition.

The British and Irish Lions full-back was among the names in Warren Gatland's 39-man squad as he continues his recovery from his latest injury setback.

Young could make his Six Nations debut after he was given the nod along with fellow back-row Josh Turnbull.

Taulupe Faletau misses out after suffering another broken arm on his comeback from the same injury in Bath's win over Wasps last weekend, but Ross Moriarty, Rhys Patchell and Jake Ball were selected.

Jarrod Evans and Jonah Holmes, who made their international bows in November, were also in Gatland's squad.

Wales face France in Paris in the opening match of the tournament on February 1.

 

Wales squad:

Forwards: Rob Evans, Wyn Jones, Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Ken Owens, Leon Brown, Tomas Francis, Samson Lee, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Josh Turnbull, Aaron Wainwright, Thomas Young.

Backs: Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans, Rhys Patchell, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Owen Watkin, Scott Williams, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Steffan Evans, Leigh Halfpenny, Jonah Holmes, George North, Liam Williams.

Taulupe Faletau is set to miss the Six Nations after the Wales number eight suffered another broken arm in his Bath comeback on Saturday.

The British and Irish Lions back-row produced an impressive performance on his return in an 18-16 European Rugby Champions Cup victory over Wasps.

Faletau had been out since breaking his arm in October and Bath confirmed on Tuesday the unfortunate 28-year-old is facing another spell on the sidelines with the same injury.

A statement from the Premiership club said: "Bath Rugby can confirm that Taulupe Faletau suffered a fracture to his forearm in Saturday's Champions Cup fixture against Wasps. 

"Faletau was making his return following another fracture which occurred in October. 

"It's not yet known at this time how long Taulupe will be out of action."

The loss of Faletau is a big blow for Warren Gatland, who is due to name his Six Nations squad later on Tuesday.

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder expects Taulupe Faletau to be fit for Wales' Six Nations campaign and has offered a positive injury update on England's Jonathan Joseph.

Leigh Halfpenny would appear to be a doubt for Wales' Six Nations campaign after the Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac confirmed he would visit a specialist due to his concussion issues.

The full-back has not featured since November 10 when he took a blow to the head from Samu Kerevi in Wales' victory over Australia in Cardiff.

Halfpenny had been due to return against Cardiff Blues last weekend only to withdraw prior to kick-off and despite training with the Scarlets in the build-up to Saturday's Pro14 clash against the Dragons, Pivac has confirmed he will not feature due to ongoing headaches.

With Wales beginning the Six Nations against France on February 1, Halfpenny is now due to see a specialist to determine how much longer he can expect to be out for.

"Leigh is still out," Pivac said.

"He was training at the start of the week and still picking up the odd issue there in terms of headaches.

"He is seeing a specialist and that will hopefully give us an accurate timeframe for him in terms of coming back to play. We will know more next week, hopefully.

"It has been about eight weeks now so we want to get some reassurance that we are doing the right things and make sure we stay on track."

There is better news elsewhere for Wales, with Halfpenny's international team-mate Liam Williams set to make his return from a hamstring injury when Saracens face Sale Sharks in the Premiership on Friday.

Wayne Pivac says a tour to New Zealand is "on the horizon" for his first year in charge of Wales.

Scarlets chief Pivac will take over from current Wales coach Warren Gatland after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and his first major assignment will be the following year's Six Nations.

But the Kiwi could be back on home soil soon after, with the Welsh Rugby Union said to be planning a series against the All Blacks.

"That would be fantastic if it was to come to fruition," said Pivac. "It would be a proud moment for me.

"I have heard it's on the horizon but when it's confirmed, it's confirmed.

"It would be a Six Nations followed by three matches against the All Blacks.

"What better way early on to test yourself against one of the best teams, if not the best, in the world?

"That would be a big challenge but one I'm sure everyone would look forward to."

It was also confirmed on Thursday that Scarlets duo Rhys Patchell (hamstring) and Jake Ball (shoulder) could be out for up to six weeks, making them doubts for the start of the Six Nations.

Leigh Halfpenny, meanwhile, is in contention to face Cardiff Blues this weekend having not played since suffering concussion in Wales' win against Australia on November 10.

"Leigh trained today [Thursday] and we will see how he goes between today's session and the captain's run for tomorrow," said Pivac.

"So he has a chance, but we will not risk him if he is not cleared for the weekend."

Wales and Ospreys prop Paul James has been forced to retire due to a shoulder problem.

James has not featured competitively since coming on as a replacement in the Ospreys' Pro14 victory over the Dragons on December 31, 2017.

The 36-year-old, capped 66 times by Wales, revealed a lack of improvement in his shoulder after two operations has forced him to switch his focus to coaching.

"I'm sad to say my time has come to an end. After two shoulder operations and a lot of rehab I'm afraid that my shoulder hasn't recovered," James wrote in a post on Twitter.

"I would just like to thank everyone who has supported me over my career and has helped me achieve everything I did, especially my wife Louise as she had to go through the highs and lows with me.

"I look back with no regrets and loved every second of it. I will miss the banter with the boys but hope to get a new buzz out of dipping my toes into coaching."

Wayne Pivac will be assisted by Stephen Jones and Jonathan Humphreys when he starts his reign as Wales head coach next year.

Pivac, who will replace Warren Gatland after the Rugby World Cup in Japan, on Wednesday added the two former Wales captains to his staff.

Jones currently works under Pivac at the Scarlets and Humphreys is assistant coach of Glasgow Warriors, but the pair will move on at the end of the season.

Neil Jenkins and Paul 'Bobby' Stridgeon will retain their positions on the Wales coaching staff when Gatland departs.

Pivac said: "I'm delighted with today's announcement. We are bringing in two hugely experienced, quality Welsh coaches to our set-up in Stephen and Jonathan and have secured the services of both Neil and Paul which is vitally important,

"The WRU have been forward thinking with their planning and recruitment for post RWC 2019 and this has allowed me to bring in and secure the coaches we wanted.

"Stephen and Jonathan are hugely respected not only for what they did on the field as players but in their careers as coaches and I'm delighted to have them as part of our team.

"They will bring a huge amount of experience, excitement and passion to their roles.

"It is fantastic that both Neil and Bobby will be part of the team going forward. They are both very well respected across the world game, possess huge international experience and will be an important part of our plans going forward.

"We are ahead of schedule with our appointments with more to be made but it is great we are able to confirm where we stand at the moment."

Ellis Jenkins remains hopeful he can feature for Wales at next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan as he waits to learn of the extent of his knee injury.

The flanker was injured late on in his country's 20-11 victory over South Africa in Cardiff on Saturday when Wales made it nine successive Test victories for the first time this century.

Jenkins was voted man-of-the-match but left the field after full-time on a stretcher, with coach Warren Gatland fearing he had damaged his anterior cruciate ligament.

The 25-year-old had a scan on Monday and will learn his recovery timetable after meeting a specialist next week, but returning in time for the start of the Rugby World Cup next September is his objective.

"I've been for a scan so [I'm] just waiting to see a specialist next week then go from there," he told Wales Online.

"We all know what's happening at the end of this season and that's still my goal at the moment until someone tells me otherwise.

"I want to be back as quick as possible, playing as soon as possible and back playing well. That's my goal at the moment.

"I've been trying to keep my knee moving and get the swelling down.

"If I need surgery I need to keep the swelling to a minimum otherwise it just delays the process."

Bath have revealed Taulupe Faletau, another Wales back-rower, is expected to return from his broken arm in mid-December having missed the recent internationals.

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