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HomeSportMorgan captains Wales as Halfpenny reaches 100 caps

Morgan captains Wales as Halfpenny reaches 100 caps


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Jac Morgan and Leigh Halfpenny are former Scarlets team-mates but have now both left the regionOspreys flanker Jac Morgan will captain Wales against England while Leigh Halfpenny wins his 100th Wales cap in Cardiff on Saturday.Wales have named three new caps to start in the World Cup warm-up.Cardiff props Corey Domachowski and Kieran Assiratti and Gloucester centre Max Llewellyn are set to make their debuts.There could be two new caps off the replacements bench in Taine Plumtree and ex England prop Henry Thomas.Aaron Wainwright will play at number eight at the Principality Stadium with Taulupe Faletau battling a calf injury, while Sam Costelow is named at fly-half alongside his Scarlets half-back partner Gareth Davies.Captain MorganHannah Jones and Jac Morgan go back to school to talk about rugbyMorgan will captain Wales for the first time as Warren Gatland looks to replace Ken Owens who has been ruled out of at least the tournament pool stages because of a back injury.Wales have also lost experienced players like Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb who have retired from international rugby ahead of the World Cup.Gatland says he will look at captaincy contenders in the three warm-up matches before coming to a final decision”We’ve named Jac as captain for this match and it is a great honour for him to be leading his country,” said Gatland.”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.”Morgan and Wales women’s captain Hannah Jones are both former pupils of Brynamman primary and Amman Valley Comprehensive schools.Century makerLeigh Halfpenny is aiming to play in this third World CupHalfpenny, 34, will become the ninth man to play 100 internationals for Wales after Alun Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, George North, Dan Biggar, Stephen Jones, Gareth Thomas, Martyn Williams and Taulupe Faletau.With his four British and Irish Lions Test caps, Halfpenny played his 100th international against Canada in July 2021. The occasion lasted only a minute for the full-back after he suffered a serious knee injury which forced him out of rugby for more than a year.Halfpenny was 19 when he made his first Wales appearance almost 15 years ago against South Africa in November 2008 and Gatland has urged fans to mark his latest milestone.”I’d like to make a special mention for Leigh,” said Gatland”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.”New boysCorey Domachowski, Max Llewellyn and Kieran Assiratti all played for Cardiff during the 2022-23 seasonCardiff props Domachowski and Assiratti impressed last season and were included in the World Cup training squad.Centre Llewellyn, the son of former Wales lock Gareth, has signed for Gloucester for next season and will partner George North in the midfield.Plumtree, 23, linked with the Wales training squad in Switzerland just days after joining Scarlets. He was born in Wales and the son of former Swansea coach John. He began his career with Wellington in the NPC and played for the Blues in Super Rugby.Thomas played seven internationals for England between 2013 and 2014, but qualifies to play for Wales through his father and is eligible under World Rugby regulations because he last played for the land of his birth more than three years ago.Final preparationsWales have been on training camps to Turkey and Switzerland to prepare for the tournamentGatland’s side have three World Cup warm-up matches before the tournament, with a return visit to Twickenham on 12 August.Wales complete their preparations against world champions South Africa on 19 August before Warren Gatland is scheduled to name his final 33-man squad the following week.Wales open their pool campaign against Fiji in Bordeaux on 10 September before further group games against Portugal, Australia and Georgia.”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,” said Gatland.”We’re excited to get out on 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.”Wales side to face England: Leigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Max Llewellyn, Rio Dyer; Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies; Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias, Keiron Assiratti, Dafydd Jenkins, Will Rowlands, Christ Tshiunza, Jac Morgan (capt), Aaron Wainwright.Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Henry Thomas, Ben Carter, Taine Plumtree, Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar, Mason Grady.

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