Wales’ head coach, Warren Gatland, has opted to give Dan Biggar some much-needed rest as he introduces 13 changes to the lineup for their upcoming Rugby World Cup match against Portugal.
Among the starting players retained from the previous clash with Fiji are Louis Rees-Zammit and Taulupe Faletau, while a notable addition is Leigh Halfpenny, who earns his 101st cap as a full-back.
In this significant lineup shuffle, Tomos Williams steps in as the scrum-half for his 50th cap, and Gareth Anscombe secures his first start of the tournament as the fly-half. Gatland has also decided to grant four players their World Cup debuts: Dewi Lake will captain the side from the hooker position, Johnny Williams and Mason Grady will feature in the centers, and Christ Tshiunza will join the team as a lock.
The front row consists of Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, and Dewi Lake, while Dafyyd Jenkins partners with Christ Tshiunza in the second row. Rio Dyer joins forces with Rees-Zammit on the wing. Dan Lydiate takes on the role of blindside flanker, while Tommy Reffell makes his first start of the tournament as the openside flanker. Faletau continues as No. 8 to gain more game time following his return from a calf injury.
Wales’ bench includes Gareth Davies, Sam Costelow, and Josh Adams in the backs, with Ryan Elias, Corey Domachowski, and Tomas Francis available for the front row, and Adam Beard providing cover for the second row. Taine Basham, set for his World Cup debut, is the final forward replacement.
Coach Gatland commented on the changes, stating, “We’ve made a few adjustments this week due to the six-day turnaround. This presents an opportunity for our matchday 23. There’s healthy competition within the squad, which is encouraging. This group now has a chance to make their mark in the tournament.”