LONDON Wales will start with new props Rob Evans and Tomas Francis in their Six Nations match against England in Cardiff on Saturday, with backrower Taulupe Faletau, who has not played any rugby in 2017, named among the replacements.
"Both Rob and Tomas made a big impact off the bench last weekend and deserve their opportunity to start," coach Rob Howley said on Thursday following Wales' strong second half showing in their 33-7 opening away win over Italy on Sunday.
After fitness tests on Thursday morning, Howley was able to name an unchanged backline with flyhalf Dan Biggar and wing George North recovering from knocks to start in Cardiff.
"We have had a short turnaround but Dan and George have worked hard with the medics and we are pleased to be able to name them," said Howley.Nicky Smith and Samson Lee, the starting props in Rome, drop to the bench alongside Faletau, hoping for his first action since suffering a knee injury playing for his club on Christmas eve.
Wales team to play England:
Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon); George North (Northampton), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, captain), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester).
Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), Taulupe Faletau (Bath), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins).
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)