Six Nations 2022 – Wales makes four adjustments to face France

Josh Navidi and Seb Davies
Seb Davies is Cardiff team-mate Josh Navidi
Venue: Principality Stadium in Cardiff Date:Friday, 11th March Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Live streaming on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, and online starting at 19:30 GMT. Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, and BBC Radio Cymru. Text commentary on the BBC Sport app and website.

In a back row reshuffle, Wales has brought in Josh Navidi and Seb Davies from Cardiff to face France on Friday.

Davies is normally a lock while Navidi just returned from a shoulder injury and was called up to the squad.

Centre Jonathan Davies also includes Nick Tompkins as a concussion victim, while Gareth Thomas starts.

Wayne Pivac, Wales' head coach, has named Tomas Francis as his prop after he sustained a head injury in a match against England.

Josh Adams and Centre Owen Watkin, both of Twickenham's 23-19 loss, have also made a full recovery from their head injuries.

After the Ospreys prop collided and smashed into Watkin's during the England match, Wales was warned not to pick Francis.

Television footage showed Francis looking stunned after a clash of heads. He also seemed to be leaning on the posts pads for support.

The 29 year-old was removed from pitch for a head injury evaluation, which he passed. After that, he returned to the pitch and played until the 56th minute.

Progressive Rugby, a player welfare lobby group, wrote an open letter last week to World Rugby, Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), and the Six Nations expressing concern about the episode. Six Nations Rugby is currently reviewing the matter.

John Fairclough (a top surgeon who had previously worked with WRU) said that he believed it would be “a grave error” for Wales to choose Francis and that he would be at “unnecessary risks of serious injury”.

WRU said that Josh Adams and Tomas Francis were being managed clinically in Wales by medical personnel. They have followed all of the World Rugby return-to-play protocols.

“Having experienced no adverse reactions and not having encountered any complications while successfully completing each stage in the return to play protocols, both are now available.”

Reshuffle of the back row

Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham and Taulupe Fletau, both Dragons, were originally flankers to Taulupe at Twickenham on 26 Feb.

Seb Davies, 25, was replaced by a replacement and finished the game as a blind-side flanker.

Pivac was looking for a flanker and hybrid lock performer who could wear the number 6 jersey.

Davies, who holds 15 caps, was previously ranked eighth for Wales.

Navidi played against Ulster for Cardiff's first match in almost five weeks last Friday.

The 31-year-old will play open-side flanker. This role was shared with Basham and Jac in the first three Six Nations games.

Pivac stated, “Josh has been a tremendous player for us in the past.”

“He's been straight back in the side, so with 80 minutes under his belt for Cardiff we think that's enough. We look forward for him to be back out there bringing that experience.

“He's a very skilled player, and has played at that level many times. That's going to make it great for us.

“Seb at six gives us a little more size. It's great for the line-out and in the wide channels where he runs often – he has the skill set to challenge a few defenders.

Moriarty, Morgan and Basham are both relegated to the substitutes bench.

Tompkins was not considered for selection after sustaining a concussion during Saracens' win over Leicester.

Thomas, Ospreys prop has been preferred over British and Irish Lion Wyns. Louis Rees Zamit is back on the bench.

“I believe Gareth made an enormous impact last week for us, as did many players, so he gets the start,” said Pivac.

“Wyn will end the game this time, rather than starting it.”

Fabien Galathie's team is the only unbeaten left in the tournament. They are on track for a first Grand Slam title and Six Nations title since 2010.

Wales: L Williams; Cuthbert, Watkin, J Davies, Adams; Biggar (capt), T Williams; G Thomas, Elias, Francis, Rowlands, Beard, S Davies, Navidi, Faletau.

Replacements: Lake, W Jones and D Lewis.

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