CARDIFF: Gareth Anscombe was selected at flyhalf as Wales returned to full strength for their highly-anticipated Six Nations clash against England in Cardiff on Saturday.
Coach Warren Gatland on Thursday named his strongest side for the clash between the two remaining unbeaten teams in this year’s competition after fielding a second string side in their last outing, a 26-15 away victory over Italy just under a fortnight ago.
Anscombe was preferred to Dan Biggar, who had to go off after 20 minutes playing for Northampton against Sale Sharks in the English Premiership last Saturday, in the pivot position.
Biggar trained with Wales from Monday but his knee niggle is likely to have convinced Gatland to name his rival to start Saturday’s game at the Principality Stadium.
Anscombe’s half back partner at the Cardiff Blues, Tomos Williams, was ruled out because of injury.
Leigh Halfpenny, who has not played since suffering concussion against Australia last November, will have to wait to make his return even though he trained with the squad this week.
Alun Wyn Jones will lead the team with Cory Hill preferred as his second row partner instead of Adam Beard, who was named among the replacements.
“We are really happy with the experience we have got in the side,” said Gatland.
“We have been on the road for the first two weeks, we are looking forward to being back at home and to build on those first two wins and to build on our performance.
“We’ve had a great two-week lead up to this game, we’ve looked really sharp and the squad are incredibly motivated to kick on.
“We know how important this game is for the rest of the championship. It's a massive challenge playing against an England team that is playing really well and with a lot of confidence and we’ve got to make it difficult for them on Saturday.”
Team: 15-Liam Williams, 14-George North, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Gareth Anscombe, 9-Gareth Davies, 8-Ross Moriarty, 7-Justin Tipuric, 6-Josh Navidi, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4-Cory Hill, 3-Tomas Francis, 2-Ken Owens, 1-Rob Evans
Replacements: 16-Elliot Dee, 17-Nicky Smith, 18-Dillon Lewis, 19-Adam Beard, 20-Aaron Wainwright, 21-Aled Davies, 22-Dan Biggar, 23-Owen Watkin.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)