CARDIFF (Reuters) - Josh Adams will make his Wales debut against Scotland in Saturday’s Six Nations opener, coach Warren Gatland announced on Tuesday after George North joined a lengthy list of high-profile absentees for the match in Cardiff.
North has suffered persistent knee problems and had a fitness assessment on Monday after pulling out of a club match for Northampton at the weekend in the latest setback to an injury-hit season.
Adams, whose 13 tries for Worcester make the 22-year-old the top try scorer in the English Premiership this season, replaces North on the wing and is the only player in the backs who is not from the in-form Scarlets.
“We have been watching Josh (Adams) closely. He has been going well and we are excited for him,” Gatland said.
As well as North, Wales will be without skipper Sam Warburton, Dan Biggar, Jonathan Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Rhys Webb and Liam Williams for the tussle at the Principality Stadium.
Rhys Patchell takes Biggar’s place at flyhalf in what Gatland said was a tough selection call.
“Both Rhys (Patchell) and Gareth (Anscombe) have been training really well over the last couple of weeks. It was a tough call between them,” the coach said.
”Rhys has started most of his games for the Scarlets at 10. We are really happy with his form and the combination with Gareth Davies at nine.”
Ross Moriarty returns to strengthen the back row, having missed the end-of-year internationals after being injured on the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
“We know what a quality player Ross is. It’s great he is back and available and we are looking forward to seeing his explosive ball carrying on Saturday,” Gatland said.
Wales make six changes in all from their previous test in December, when they beat South Africa 24-22 in Cardiff.
They are chasing their first Six Nations title since 2013 and have not lost to Scotland in their past eight home clashes.
15-Leigh Halfpenny, 14-Josh Adams, 13-Scott Williams, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Steff Evans, 10-Rhys Patchell, 9-Gareth Davies, 8-Ross Moriarty, 7-Josh Navidi, 6-Aaron Shingler, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4-Cory Hill, 3-Samson Lee, 2-Ken Owens, 1-Rob Evans
Replacements: 16-Elliot Dee, 17-Wyn Jones, 18-Tomas Francis, 19-Bradley Davies, 20-Justin Tipuric, 21-Aled Davies, 22-Gareth Anscombe, 23-Owen Watkin.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by David Goodman