Dan Biggar is confident he is 100 per cent ready to return to action in Wales' Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash with France, according to Warren Gatland.

Biggar missed Wales' final Pool D match against Uruguay with concussion after suffering head knocks in consecutive matches against Australia and Fiji.

However, the Northampton Saints fly-half has been passed fit to start against France in Oita on Sunday.

It is a decision Gatland insisted has not taken lightly, but the Wales coach affirmed Biggar has no doubts over his fitness.

"We went through, made sure in terms of consulting the right people and making sure that they were aware of everything, getting him scanned, the independent consultant - that was important," said Gatland in a news conference.

"Dan's been fit for three or four days in terms of having passed those [concussion protocols], so we are taking all the proper precautions.

"But he's very confident that he's 100 per cent."

Gatland did, however, concede extra caution will have to be taken with Biggar should he sustain another head injury.

"He's desperate to play," Gatland added.

"We've just got to make sure if it does happen, if he gets a knock in the next few games, the next couple of months, obviously there would probably be a different course of action."

Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones has also been selected and will join Brian O'Driscoll in third on the all-time list for international Test appearances with his 141st cap.

"It's one chance to stay or you know where you are going," he said of Wales' ambitions for Sunday's clash.

"It's funny because the planning for this has probably been in Warren's head for the last 10 years rather than the last four years, two years, or 18 months.

"He is constantly building and what we have achieved or have not comes down to this moment."

Dan Biggar, Jonathan Davies and George North have all overcome fitness concerns to take their place in Wales' team for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France on Sunday.

Warren Gatland has been able to name the same team that defeated Australia in the pool stage with three of his key backs returning.

Fly-half Biggar missed the Uruguay game having taken a blow to the head when colliding with team-mate Liam Williams in the win over Fiji.

Centre Davies and winger North had been battling knee and ankle injuries respectively.

However, all three will start in Oita as Gatland's side seek to avenge their 2011 World Cup semi-final loss to Les Bleus.

Wales have won seven of their past eight fixtures against France since that last-four loss at Eden Park eight years ago.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones will move joint-third - level with Brian O'Driscoll - in the all-time international appearances list when he features in his 141st Test - nine of which have come with the British and Irish Lions.

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tom Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

Warren Gatland is hoping Wales' qualification-clinching victory over Fiji did not come at a cost after hat-trick hero Josh Adams, Dan Biggar and Jonathan Davies all picked up injuries.

Gatland's side fought back from a two-try deficit early on as Adams became the sixth man from his country to score a Rugby World Cup hat-trick before Liam Williams sealed a bonus point with a fourth try in a 29-17 triumph.

Wales are now firmly on course to top Pool D and Gatland is likely to make changes for the final group game against Uruguay on Sunday, but he will be concerned about the availability of his key backs beyond that.

Adams came off 10 minutes from time with a dead leg, Davies suffered a bang to his knee in teeing up the wing for his third try and Biggar was withdrawn after taking a blow to the head from team-mate Williams as he claimed a high ball.

Biggar failed a head injury assessment (HIA) in Wales' previous match against Australia, but Gatland told reporters on Wednesday: "It was a removal from the field, he didn't do a HIA [this time].

"It was just because of the contact, he was just removed.

"He's not in consideration for Sunday, then he'll have to go through the protocols and we'll probably have someone take a look at him as well."

Gatland was more upbeat about Adams and Davies, adding: "No fears. Josh just took a dead leg basically and Jonathan, just with his knee, the same sort of thing.

"You never know with knees, we'll probably get him assessed tomorrow when all the players have a review of today."

Wales' players will not enjoy reviewing the first eight minutes of the game, when Josua Tuisova and Kini Murimurivalu both went in down Adams' flank.

But Wales responded in a wild contest that featured five disallowed tries and four yellow cards - two for each team - the joint-most shown in a World Cup match.

"From 10-0 down, to finish with a bonus-point win... I thought that showed some great character," Gatland added.

Fiji, who were eliminated with the loss as Australia joined Wales in the last eight, were behind at the interval but went back ahead with a penalty try, yet they were left to rue their final ball as they had three would-be scores chalked off for forward passes.

"A game like that, it's a game of inches," Fiji coach John McKee said.

"You look at two or three opportunities with forward passes. It costs you big when the game's so close."

After losing to Australia and then being stunned by Uruguay in their next game, McKee was at least content to see Fiji bow out with a decent display.

"[It is] pleasing for me that finally we've had an opportunity on the world stage to show what this team is capable of," he added.

Wales took a huge step towards topping Pool D at the Rugby World Cup with a nail-biting 29-25 win over a fast-finishing over Australia in Tokyo.

First-half tries from Hadleigh Parks and the outstanding Gareth Davies made the Wallabies pay for a slow start and set up a result which should see Wales avoid a quarter-final date with England.

Warren Gatland's men did have their 15-point half-time lead trimmed to one during the second period but held firm with help from Rhys Patchell's vital third three-pointer.

The Scarlets fly-half only came on after Dan Biggar was forced off due to concussion, the lone setback for Wales on Alun Wyn Jones' 130th cap, a national record.

Wales made a fast start in their tournament-opening win over Georgia and did the same on Sunday as a Biggar drop goal punished Australia's turnover from the kick-off.

Fly-half Biggar was involved again for the first try of the match when Parkes rose high to claim an intelligent kick and extend the margin to 10 points in almost as many minutes.

Australia's nerves eventually started to settle and the recalled Adam Ashley-Cooper got his team on the board by meeting Bernard Foley's cross-field kick.

Foley missed the conversion but made amends with a three-pointer prior to the half-hour mark.

The influential Biggar failed a head injury assessment following a try-saving tackle on Samu Kerevi, yet his absence did nothing to hinder Wales.

His replacement, Patchell, nailed a pair of penalties and extended the lead to 23-8 at half-time after Davies made a second interception, this time from Will Genia, and raced clean through, albeit from a seemingly offside position.

Patchell's successful drop goal in the early stages of the second half prompted Michael Cheika to swap Foley for Matt Toomua and it was the latter's break that ended with Dane Haylett-Petty diving over on the right.

Australia grabbed the momentum and reduced the deficit to four points 20 minutes from the end, Michael Hooper squirming over following a sustained period of pressure.

Toomua made both conversions and then put the Wallabies within one point with a successful penalty, but Patchell responded to give a tiring Wales breathing space in the closing moments.


Wales shed Wallabies hoodoo

Gatland's men beat the Wallabies 9-6 in Cardiff in November 2018 but had lost the past five World Cup meetings between the nations.

Ending that run and avenging the 15-6 pool match defeat to Australia four years ago could provide the impetus for a run deep into the tournament.


Cheika's big call backfires

Australia coach Cheika turned to experience to combat Wales, making four changes to the backline that helped secure a 39-21 win over Fiji.

He might be regretting that decision. Foley and Genia were drafted into the halves and, for experienced players accustomed to this stage, were prone to basic errors that invited pressure.


What's next?

The Wallabies have work to do ahead of Saturday's game against a Uruguay side boosted by a surprise win over Fiji, who are Wales' next opponents on October 9.

Wales coach Warren Gatland hopes Alun Wyn Jones can earn more plaudits with a fine performance in his record-equalling 129th Test appearance against Georgia.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions will be the last of the big hitters to kick-off their Rugby World Cup campaign when they take to the field in Toyota on Monday.

As expected, Gatland has named Jones in his line-up and that means the veteran lock will tie Gethin Jenkins' Wales appearance record.

Jones will be key to Wales' hopes of following up their Six Nations success with worldwide domination in Japan and Gatland is keen to see his star man deliver once again in a red shirt.

If he comes through that challege unscathed, the 34-year-old would then be able to claim the record outright in a huge Pool D clash against Australia.

"He has been absolutely outstanding in his services to Welsh rugby," Gatland said of Jones. "He's got better with age - he is like a good wine.

"Hopefully, he comes out of Monday night's game fit and available and, if selected, as he always says, against Australia, he will get that chance to break that Welsh record.

"He doesn't like me talking about these things, but he deserves all the accolades.

"He has been just such a great servant to Welsh rugby and the pleasing thing for me in the last couple of years is that recognition hasn't been just from Wales, it has been worldwide, too.

"People have realised what a contribution he has given to world rugby in terms of his performances and leadership.

"That's pleasing to see, that someone from Wales is recognised as one of the best players in the world in his position."

While Wales have their captain fit and available, opponents Georgia are missing skipper Merab Sharikadze, who is still recovering from injury.

Gatland is not taking them lightly, though, adding: "With Georgia, we know how strong they are up front and their scrum is a weapon. We've got to be competent at scrum time.

"The boys had a good training session this morning. We're really excited - we can't wait for Monday night."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales - Dan Biggar

Gareth Anscombe's pre-tournament knee injury created a space at fly-half and, with Rhys Patchell among the replacements recovering from his own ailment, Biggar is the man who starts the campaign at number 10. He has started just two games for his country in 2019 but has experience on the world stage, having kicked 23 points to see off England four years ago.

Georgia - Tedo Abzhandadze

Abzhandadze, the opposite fly-half, was a star of Georgia's Under-20 team and, still just 20, has earned the starting job at the World Cup, playing what will be only his 10th Test against Wales. His early senior performances have not been entirely convincing and he will need to step up in a big way against the Welsh.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- The only previous meeting between these sides took place in November 2017 when Wales earned a hard-fought 13-6 win.
- Wales come into this fixture having lost their past two Rugby World Cup games. They have never lost three or more in succession at the tournament.
- Among Tier 1 sides, only Argentina have lost as many Rugby World Games to non-Tier 1 opposition as Wales (both three). The Welsh were beaten by Samoa in 1991 and 1999, as well as by Fiji in 2007.
- Georgia have lost 10 out of 10 Rugby World Cup games against Tier 1 opposition, with those defeats coming by an average margin of 33 points.
- Georgia won the 2019 Rugby Europe Championship, the eighth time in the past nine seasons they have triumphed at the second-tier tournament.

Wales' Rugby World Cup squad have pulled together after the shock of backs coach Rob Howley being sent home from Japan over an alleged breach of betting regulations.

On Tuesday, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) confirmed Howley had returned to Wales six days before the team's opening World Cup match against Georgia in order to "assist with an investigation in relation to a potential breach of World Rugby regulation 6, specifically betting on rugby union".

Head coach Warren Gatland was forced to absorb a potentially damaging blow to his squad on his 56th birthday – something he made light of a Wednesday news conference where he praised the players' togetherness and discussed former Wales fly-half Stephen Jones coming in as Howley's replacement.

"I've had better birthdays, for sure," Gatland told a news conference at Wales' Kitakyushu base.

"We were shocked with it but, as I said, the union are dealing with this and my focus now has to be on the next five days, in terms of preparing the squad for their first game against Georgia.

"I spoke to Stephen Jones the other night about his availability to come in. He was willing to help and do that. The exciting thing about that is he's been in this environment in the past.

"He'll bring his own personality to the squad and have the opportunity to give his own ideas and input.

"For us [we have to] make it as seamless as we possibly can. You have to deal with adversity at times. I must say that the players in the past 24 hours have really stepped up.

"They've been incredibly responsible and resilient and sometimes that brings teams closer together. We've got to draw a line in the sand and really focus on preparing the team for the next five days.

"We got a shock the other day and it took a bit of time for this to sink in."

Dan Biggar could feel the effects of Howley's departure more than most, as he heads into the tournament as Wales' first choice at number 10.

"They [the players] were disappointed," Biggar said. "Especially for people like myself and Jon [centre Jonathan Davies], who have only ever had Rob as coach in the set-up and he has given us every single cap we've had.

"It's a huge disappointment, really, and shock, I suppose, but we are also adults and realise if things like this happen then we have just got to get on with it.

"That's what has been great about this squad over the last year or two. Whatever has come our way – we had a couple of distractions in the last Six Nations and we went on to win our final two games and the Grand Slam – we are strong."

Davies has plenty of experience working alongside Jones for Scarlets and believes he will have a positive impact upon the group.

"As well what he carried over to the coaching side, [what stood out] with Steve was the energy he always had as a player," Davies said. "On the training field he always had that bounce about him.

"He always demands high standards and tactically he wants the boys to play what's in front of them and make sure we make the right decisions.

"There will be a lot of excitement and Steve will give it his best shot, I can guarantee that."

After facing Georgia on September 23, Wales take on Australia, Fiji and Uruguay in Pool D.

Dan Biggar gave "special thanks" to JJ Williams after his man-of-the-match display in Wales' 13-6 win over England.

A cruciate knee ligament injury to Gareth Anscombe during last weekend's defeat at Twickenham thrust Biggar into the number 10 shirt – prompting former Wales great Williams to state his country would not win the forthcoming World Cup with the Northampton Saints fly-half in the team.

But Biggar kicked a penalty and a conversion, the latter coming courtesy of him brilliantly creating the only try of a low-scoring contest for George North as Wales edged ahead of New Zealand at the top of the world rankings.

"Special thanks to JJ Williams for his comments this week, it's been really motivating," said Biggar, as quoted by BBC Sport.

"The forwards were brilliant all day - England's strength is in the set piece, to front up and keep a world-class team try-less is an excellent effort.

"We go to Turkey for a week to hopefully get better for the two Ireland games."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones lauded Biggar's display and the wider achievement of his side, who overcame Liam Williams withdrawing due to a tight hamstring in the warm-up.

"Ten is a position in Wales that has always been in vogue. Fair play to Dan, he stood up knowing the pressure was on him at home," said the veteran lock.

"We are a team of 3.3 million so we can be happy with [being world number one]."

Wales coach Warren Gatland told Channel 4 he was impressed with his players' character during a contest that wasn't always easy on the eye.

"It was a proper Test match, it was tough, it was physical," he said.

"I said to the boys in the changing room, we showed massive character and big cojones. We lost Williams just before kick-off.

"Other teams are going to beat us at some stage, but if you're going to beat us you have to play pretty well."

George Ford captained an experimental England line-up and was responsible for the visitors' entire points haul.

"It's a disappointing result [but] I can't fault the effort, the commitment was brilliant again," he told Channel 4, before concurring with Gatland's assessment.

"We just need to tidy a few areas up - discipline and the breakdown.

"We knew Wales were going to come back. We wanted to play a better game this week too. That was a proper Test match - physical, not much time and space.

"It's been good for us to play in a stadium like this with the roof closed, so we'll keep working."

Ford added: "I don't think many people will remember these games. What happens at the World Cup in a few weeks' time will be completely different so we'll be ready for that."

Wales moved to the top of the world rankings for the first time in their history with a 13-6 win over England in Cardiff.

Eddie Jones' side denied the Grand Slam winners that distinction with a 33-19 victory at Twickenham last weekend but that result was avenged during a largely uneventful pre-World Cup encounter.

George North scored the only try as Dan Biggar proved instrumental to Wales' win – a timely answer to the criticism from former Wales and British and Irish Lions great JJ Williams this week, who said his country would not win the World Cup with the Northampton Saints man at fly-half in the wake of Gareth Anscombe's cruciate knee ligament injury.

All the points acquired by an experimental England line-up came from George Ford's boot, with Ireland awaiting Jones' men next weekend.

An error-strewn opening from both sides contributed to there being no score until the 26th minute, with Biggar slotting over a close-range penalty after England crept offside at the end of a rumbling 13-phase move.

Wales' number 10 was integral to the sole try of the match, stabbing a quick penalty out to Josh Adams following Anthony Watson's yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.

England were unable to reset and another superb Biggar kick switched play to the left for North to touch down.

Watson returned from the sinbin at the start of the second half, as did scrum-half Willi Heinz after getting the all-clear from a head-injury assessment, and the visitors resumed on the front foot – a quickfire pair of Ford penalties trimming the deficit.

Leigh Halfpenny, who was a late inclusion at full-back after Liam Williams withdrew due to a tight hamstring in the warm-up, was off-target with an attempt from halfway.

Watson was hauled down six metres from the line as a blistering England attack own the right had Wales scrambling – Biggar's huge hit on Maro Itoje preceding an offside call in the hosts' favour.

Five minutes from time a successful Halfpenny long-ranger closed out victory and knocked New Zealand off the top of the World Rugby standings, despite the All Blacks' 36-0 routing of Australia to seal the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park earlier on Saturday.

Warren Gatland challenged Wales to "step it up" as he named Dan Biggar as one of three changes to his starting line-up for the World Cup warm-up match against England on Saturday.

Wales missed the chance to replace New Zealand at the top of the rankings when they were beaten 33-19 by an experimental England side at Twickenham last weekend.

Gareth Anscombe suffered a knee injury which will keep him out of the World Cup in Japan as Eddie Jones' men ended the Grand Slam winners' 14-match winning run.

Biggar comes in at fly-half to replace Anscombe, while flanker James Davies and lock Jake Ball come in for the injured Adam Beard and Justin Tipuric in Cardiff.

Fit-again flanker Josh Navidi was named among the replacements, but scrum-half Tomos Williams (shoulder) remains sidelined.

Wales head coach Gatland said: "We were disappointed to get the loss last weekend, so it is important we step it up on Saturday and put in a big display in front of a packed Principality Stadium.

"The squad are looking forward to getting back out there, taking another step towards the Rugby World Cup and putting in a big performance."

Wales team to face England on Saturday: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Aaron Wainwright, James Davies, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi, Aled Davies, Jarrod Evans, Owen Watkin.

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