LONDON – Prop Rhys Carre and wing Owen Lane will make their international debut for Wales when it hosts Ireland in its penultimate Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Cardiff on Saturday, head coach Warren Gatland said on Thursday.
Gatland made 14 changes to the squad that beat England 13-6 earlier this month and the team will be captained by Josh Navidi, with Aaron Shingler and James Davies in the back row alongside him.
Uncapped Carre and Lane have played together for Wales’ age-grade sides and Gatland said it was a “great opportunity” for the pair to make an impression before he finalises his 31-man squad for next month’s World Cup in Japan.
“They’ve worked hard all summer to get to this point so it will be good for them to get their first international caps and put their hands up for Rugby World Cup selection after the match,” Gatland said in a statement.
“For Josh, it’s a huge honor to be named captain. He has been hugely consistent for us … really impressed in the last couple of seasons and he’ll lead from the front of Saturday and it is a great compliment for him to be awarded the captaincy.
“Saturday is a really big game for the players and I’m really excited about the challenge for this Welsh team. There’s so much at stake in terms of World Cup selection and with a number of positions still up for grabs it will be a huge game.”
The only player to retain his place in the starting XV was James Davies on the back row. Scott Williams, who was released from the Six Nations squad in February due to a back injury, returns to the side.
Carre will play alongside Scarlets’ Ryan Elias and Samson Lee in the front row, while Jarrod Evans is set to make his first start.
Wales plays one more warm-up match away at Ireland on Sept. 7 before flying to Japan where it begins its World Cup Pool D campaign against Georgia on Sept. 23.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5