Leigh Halfpenny hits 100, Jac Morgan to captain Wales against England

Leigh Halfpenny and Jac Morgan Wales image 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy

Leigh Halfpenny and Jac Morgan Wales image 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy

Wales veteran Leigh Halfpenny is set to make his 100th Test appearance for his country when they take on England in their Rugby World Cup warm-up match at Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

Halfpenny will start at full-back, having made his Test debut on the wing against South Africa in November 2008 while still a teenager.

The 34-year-old won his 50th Test cap against Ireland during the 2014 Six Nations, becoming the youngest Welsh men’s player to do so at the time. One year later, George North – who will start at outside centre against England on Saturday – broke that record.

Momentous occasion for Jac Morgan

Meanwhile, it will also be a momentous occasion for openside flanker Jac Morgan, who will captain the side for the first time at senior level after previously captaining Wales’ U20 side.

Keiron Assiratti (tighthead prop), Corey Domachowski (loosehead prop) and Max Llewellyn (centre) have also been selected in the run-on side and are all set to make their debuts at senior level for Wales.

Former England prop Henry Thomas and back-rower Taine Plumtree have been included on the replacements bench are also set to make their senior Wales debuts this weekend.

Morgan is joined in the back-row by Christ Tshiunza (blindside flanker) and Aaron Wainwright (number eight).

Dafydd Jenkins and Will Rowlands will pack down in the second-row, with Rowlands making his first appearance for his country since sustaining a shoulder injury last autumn, as does Ryan Elias, who returns to the starting XV at hooker.

Elsewhere, experienced scrum-half Gareth Davies is joined by Scarlets’ team-mate Sam Costelow as the halfback pairing while Rio Dyer and Louis Rees-Zammit complete the starting line-up on the wings.

Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith and Ben Carter join Thomas and Plumtree as the forward replacements, while Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar and Mason Grady offer backline cover to round out the matchday 23.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “I’ve been really pleased with the players’ effort and commitment in Turkey, Switzerland and the mini-camps in Wales prior, but now it’s about putting what we’ve been training into practice.

“We’re excited to get out on the pitch at Principality Stadium this Saturday – it’s always so special playing at home in front of our amazing fans.

“There is some great competition among the squad in all positions, and we’ve selected a team this week with a few debutants, because we want to give them the opportunity to see what they can do. There’s a lot to play for over the next three matches, and everyone is still in contention to make that final squad for France.

Regarding the captaincy, Gatland added: “We’ve named Jac as captain for this match, and it is a great honour for him to be leading his country.

“We’ll be looking at probably having a different captain for each of the matches as we give as many as possible in the squad an opportunity to impress, but also mindful about potential combinations as we get closer to naming the World Cup squad.

High praise for Wales’ latest Test centurion

Gatland hailed Halfpenny for achieving his milestone.

“I’d like to make a special mention for Leigh Halfpenny, who will win his 100th cap for Wales on Saturday,” he said. “Reaching this milestone is an incredible achievement and testament to the player and person Leigh is. I know it will be a very special day for him and all his family.

“There are some tickets still available this weekend, and we’d encourage as many fans as possible to come down to celebrate Leigh’s achievement with us and see the new players making their Wales debuts.”

Wales team versus England

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Jac Morgan (c), 6 Christ Tshiunza, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Dafydd Jenkins, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Corey Domachowski

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Taine Plumtree, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Mason Grady

Date: Saturday, August 5

Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff

Kick-off: 17:30 BST (16:30 GMT)

Referee: Nic Berry (RA)

Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (SRU), Andrea Piardi (FIR)

TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)

READ MORE: ‘I don’t think you’ve seen the best of me’ – Louis Rees-Zammit

The article Leigh Halfpenny hits 100, Jac Morgan to captain Wales against England appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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