Francis to start against Ireland
By Mark Stevens
Wales have named their side for their final preparation match ahead of the Rugby World Cup with Tomas Francis returning to the starting line-up for the clash in Dublin against Ireland on Saturday (2pm).
Having sat out last Saturday's 22-17 loss to Ireland in Cardiff, the Exeter Chiefs prop is one of 15 changes Warren Gatland has made to his starting XV for this latest tussle.
Francis - who will win his 43rd Test cap - will pack down in the front-row alomgside Wyn Jones and Elliot Dee at the Aviva Stadium.
Skipper Alun Wyn Jones also returns in a pack, which also includes Jake Ball in the second-row with Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty comprising the back-row.
Behind the scrum, Tomos Williams and Rhys Patchell are named at half-back with Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies partnering at centre. Josh Adams, George North and Leigh Halfpenny form the back-three for Wales.
On return from Dublin, Wales will depart for Japan on Wednesday, September 11.
“This is our final preparation match so it is important we get enough rugby into us, get rugby ready ahead of our RWC opener against Georgia which is just over two weeks away,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland. “It is important we hit the ground running in Japan and we give the players enough time on the field.
“Saturday is the first time these players would have taken to the field as members of the RWC squad, it has been a big week and it is a big opportunity for players to put their hand up and secure spots for the starting XV in Japan.”
WALES TEAM TO FACE IRELAND
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets, 81 Caps)
14. George North (Ospreys, 85 Caps)
13. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets, 75 Caps)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets, 17 Caps)
11. Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues, 13 Caps)
10. Rhys Patchell (Scarlets, 12 Caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues. 8 Caps)
1. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, 14 Caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons, 21 Caps)
3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs, 42 Caps)
4. Jake Ball (Scarlets, 35 Caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, capt, 127 Caps)
6. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons, 11 Caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, 65 Caps)
8. Ross Moriarty (Dragons, 33 Caps)
16. Ken Owen (Scarlets, 66 Caps)
17. Nicky Smith (Ospreys, 30 Caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues, 14 Caps)
19. Adam Beard (Ospreys, 15 Caps)
20. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues, 18 Caps)
21. Gareth Davies (Scarlets, 43 Caps)
22. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, 72 Cap)
23. Liam Williams (Saracens, 57 Caps)